Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Ex-NIO minister defends suspended MP ield

MP feared protester he tackled was armed: peer

Mark Field removing climate change protester. Photo: BBC
Mark Field removing climate change protester. Photo: BBC
Elizabeth Day
Sir Peter Bottomley

By Staff Reporter

A former NIO minister has defended a Conservative MP who grabbed a female Greenpeace activist after she gatecrashed a prestigious dinner.

Sir Peter Bottomley (74) entered the furore surrounding Mark Field, who has been suspended after he was filmed ejecting the protester from the invitation-only Mansion House dinner on Thursday night.

But a high-profile newspaper columnist who grew up in Northern Ireland yesterday said Mr Field's actions had been driven by "male anger".

The MP has been suspended from his junior ministerial role at the Foreign Office.

It came after footage of the incident involving Mr Field and protester Janet Barker was widely shared on social media.

Speaking to the BBC Sir Peter, who served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1989 to 1990, applauded Mr Field for his swift action in removing the protester, preventing her from approaching Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

Mr Field said he had been "genuinely worried" that she might have been armed.

Sir Peter said Mr Field had been trying to "defuse what could have been a tragic situation".

And he referred to the murder of South Belfast MP Rev Robert Bradford in his defence of Mr Field.

Ulster Unionist MP Mr Bradford was killed by the IRA in 1981.

"Robert Bradford didn't know that when he was murdered in his constituency," he said.

He said Liberal MP Nigel Jones's case worker Andrew Pennington, who was stabbed to death with a sword in frenzied attack at the party's office in Gloucestershire in 2000, didn't know it when he got murdered.

"A person could be carrying a collapsible truncheon," he added.

But writing in yesterday's Mail On Sunday, journalist and author Elizabeth Day slammed Mr Field's actions, describing them as being driven by "male anger".

Ms Day wrote: "His (Mr Field's) automatic response when a peaceful female protester had the temerity to walk behind his chair at a black-tie dinner, was to slam her violently against a pillar and grab her by the neck.

"Field was caught on camera, his face contorted in eye-popping rage.

"Once again, I was reminded of all the times I've experienced male anger and been scared by it, by its uncontrollable nature and its physical expression."

Ms Barker, meanwhile, said she does not intend to press any charges.

She suggested Mr Field should attend anger management classes.

She added: "I want him to reflect on what he did and not do it again."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph