U.K. Government Minister Suspended After Video Shows Him Grabbing Greenpeace Activist by the Neck, Says He Was 'Genuinely Worried' She Was Armed

A British foreign minister has been suspended pending an investigation after video emerged of him grabbing an activist by the neck and marching her out of a formal event in the City of London.

Mark Field, who is minister for Asia and the Pacific, said he regretted the incident which took place during the British Chancellor's annual Mansion House speech.

Protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace had infiltrated the black-tie event in the center of London in which Philip Hammond was outlining the state of the British economy.

Footage shows the female protester, dressed in red, making her way towards the front of the room.

UK foreign minister Mark Field
Mark Field, British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, attends an event in New Delhi on October 3, 2017. Video shows the minister grabbing a Greenpeace activist by the neck. MONEY SHARMA/Getty Images

As she passed Field, the minister grabbed her forcibly by the neck, pushing her against a column and marched her out of the event. Field referred himself to the Cabinet Office for investigation and apologized "unreservedly" to the activist.

He told ITV News that the presence of a number of activists, who were wearing sashes with the words "climate emergency" on them, had meant that guests at the event "felt threatened."

"There was no security present and I was for a split second genuinely worried she might have been armed. As a result I grasped the intruder firmly in order to remove her from the room as swiftly as possible," Field told the outlet.

"I deeply regret this episode and unreservedly apologize to the lady concerned for grabbing her but in the current climate I felt the need to act decisively to close down the threat to the safety of those present."

Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said it was "very hard to defend" the footage and said there would be an investigation. Meanwhile a spokeswoman for Number 10 told the BBC: "The prime minister has seen the footage and she found it very concerning. The police have said they are looking into reports over this matter and Mark Field has also referred himself to both the Cabinet Office and the Conservative Party. He will be suspended as a minister while investigations take place."

Watch as Tory MP for Cities of London & Westminster @MarkFieldUK grabs a Greenpeace protester who interrupted a Philip Hammond speech in London tonight https://t.co/wZTzEC8lKF pic.twitter.com/tJuwCZ1P0X

— ITV News (@itvnews) June 20, 2019

Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley defended Field's actions, telling the Press Association: "The woman clearly was trying to create a fuss. Most viewers would say it's good that she didn't succeed."

Fellow lawmaker, the MP Johnny Mercer, tweeted his support, saying: "Try being in our shoes in the current environment. He panicked, he's not trained in restraint and arrest, and if you think this is 'serious violence,' you may need to recalibrate your sensitivities. Calm down, move on, and be thankful this wasn't worse."

Labour's shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler told PA: "I'm sure I'm not the only one who is wondering why no one intervened. So much violence does not seem justified. An investigation needs to take place as soon as possible," she told PA, which reported that Field has spoken up for protesters and condemned violence against women.

Greenpeace said that the activist "had a good sleep and is doing fine. We're looking after her. Thanks so much for your love and concern everyone. We're sharing positive messages with her."