Ex-Tory MP breached ministerial code by grabbing climate change protester’s neck

A former Tory MP breached the ministerial code by using force against a climate change protester at a black-tie City dinner, a Government investigation has found.

Mark Field, who stood down from Parliament after being suspended as a Foreign Office minister, grabbed Greenpeace activist Janet Barker by the neck and forced her from the event.

The Cabinet Office investigation found that he was “justified in intervening to try to stop” Ms Barker reaching the top table as protesters disrupted the beginning of then-chancellor Philip Hammond’s speech.

Janet Barker
Greenpeace activist Janet Barker was manhandled by the former Foreign Office minister (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

But Friday’s report found that, although he had to make a “split-second decision”, he “had the option of simply blocking her way” during the incident in London’s Mansion House in June.

Or he could have waited for “others to shepherd her out rather than pushing her by the neck out of the room and down the stairs”, the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards Sir Alex Allan wrote.

After reviewing footage of the incident and the comments of interviewees, he found “that the actions Mr Field took, and the force he used, were not consistent with the high standards of behaviour expected of ministers and with treating Ms Barker with consideration and respect”.

“As such it was a breach of the ministerial code,” Sir Alex added.

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