Robert Peston

Mark Field’s behaviour was inexcusable

Mark Field's behaviour was inexcusable
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Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilisation

Brian Fagan

Yale, pp. 346, £

The video of Mark Field pushing a Greenpeace activist by the neck is so upsetting.

https://twitter.com/itvnews/status/1141820588090114049

The climate-change protestors were, according to the police and friends who were there, wholly peaceful. Why on earth does Field react with such ferocity? The violence of his intervention is quite wrong.

Some people are saying Mark Field was justified in shoving the protestor against the wall and then pushing her by the neck. But I don’t think you can have watched the longer clip. Because it shows Field is not being interfered with in any way and simply lashes out. Surely that is inexcusable. I am not engaging in virtue signalling by saying this, or engaging in culture wars or making any kind of political point. This is simply about the decent and appropriate way to behave. If there was any evidence the protestors threatened violence themselves, maybe there would be extenuating circumstances. But a City friend who was there texted me to say all the protestors were conspicuously 'peaceful and well meaning'.

I have just spoken to a friend sitting close to Field, who confirms he felt the protestor posed no threat and that Field’s reaction seemed wholly disproportionate. 'He over-reacted. It was awful'. He says what he found equally upsetting was that 'when Mark returned to his seat a few people actually applauded'. My friend thought the applause was inappropriate, and showed that the protestors elicited a kind of sectarian tension in the audience. But Field has said that 'many guests felt threatened' and his reaction, which he regrets, was instinctive.

He has referred himself for investigation to the Cabinet Office. My friend, three or four seats away, tells me he did not feel threatened, although he also says the Mansion House security people were plainly out of their depth.

Robert Peston is ITV's Political Editor.

Written byRobert Peston

Robert Peston is Political Editor of ITV News and host of the weekly political discussion show Peston. This post originally appeared on his ITV News blog

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