A lot of reasons have been offered by Mark Field’s supporters as to why the Conservative MP felt it necessary to grab a Greenpeace protester by the neck, after the group interrupted a speech by the chancellor on Thursday night.
But Tory MP Bob Stewart’s argument that Field had no choice because she “wasn’t wearing a collar” might be the most bizarre so far.
“How the heck, as a man, how do you hold a woman that is not in an inappropriate way?” Stewart asked the BBC’s World at One programme after it was announced Field had been suspended as a Foreign Office minister over the incident.
“You can’t hold her by the wrist, you can’t hold her by the waist, you can’t hold her by lower down, you can’t hold her by the chest,” he said. “The only way you can really control someone in those circumstances is possibly by the collar. But she wasn’t wearing a collar.
“So that’s why his hand was probably round her neck. If he’d have touched her anywhere else he’d have probably been deemed highly inappropriate and he was trying to stop something.”
Right… As you might expect, people weren’t *entirely* convinced by Stewart’s theory.
However, Stewart said it was “heavy-handed” to suspend Field over the incident as she could have been a terrorist.
“His reason, in the spur of the moment, was what could she be doing?” he said of the Cities of London and Westminster MP. “She might have a belt of explosives on her, she might have a weapon, she might try to do something – these things have happened in the past.”
Stewart joins Tory MPs Johnny Mercer and Peter Bottomley in defending Field’s actions.
Former Army officer Mercer tweeted: “Honestly? 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.”
Meanwhile veteran MP Bottomley – who has sat on the Conservative benches since 1975 – said that Field had done nothing wrong, arguing that the protester could have been “carrying a collapsable truncheon”.
“The woman clearly was trying to create a fuss,” he told the Press Association. “Most viewers would say it’s good that she didn’t succeed.”
When asked if Field had been heavy-handed with the protester by grabbing her by the back of the neck, Bottomley responded: “No, he reversed her direction and she looked as though she went willingly.
“I think there’s no reason to criticise Mark Field… Of course it wasn’t an assault, it was a reversal of direction.”
Bottomley later told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme the protester could have been “carrying a collapsable truncheon”.
“If one of the member’s personal protection officers had intervened, blocked the woman’s progress and taken her out, he would have been doing the right thing.
“It’s a potentially dangerous situation.”