Three Billboards campaign launched over dropped investigation into Tory MP
PUBLISHED: 12:47 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:47 31 July 2019
Women's Equality Party
A Three Billboards-style campaign has been launched after Boris Johnson scrapped an investigation into a Tory MP's clash with a climate change protester.
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The new prime minister dropped a Whitehall investigation into Mark Field's confrontation with Greenpeace activist Janet Barker because he said it should have been resolved by Theresa May.
Field was suspended as a foreign office minister by May after he manhandled Barker at a high-profile dinner.
A Cabinet Office probe was set to look into whether he breached the ministerial code after the MP referred himself for investigation. He has now lost his job as a minister after Boris Johnson scrapped the probe, with a Number 10 source saying the PM believed the incident should have been dealt with by May while she was still in office.
But today the Women's Equality Party (WEP) began a campaign against the MP in his Cities of London and Westminster seat demanding that the government gives constituents the power to trigger a by-election when their MP has been violent.
Presently, under the recall procedure introduced in 2015, MPs can only be recalled by their constituents if they are convicted of a crime, suspended from the Commons for at least 10 days or convicted of making "false or misleading" parliamentary allowances claims.
But the WEP are to today drive an advert around Field's constituency, modelled on the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and aiming to collect the 6,500 petition signatures which would be needed were violent conduct grounds for an MP to be recalled.
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Tabitha Morton, a WEP spokesperson, said: "The decision to drop the investigation into Mark Field MP, despite video evidence of him grabbing a woman by the neck, shows just how little our prime minister cares about violence against women and girls.
"It sends a message that powerful people can act with impunity if Boris Johnson needs their support.
"Tomorrow we have a by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire where constituents have rightly been empowered to recall their MP for misspending public funds on office decorations.
"Fiona Onasanya lost her Peterborough seat in May for lying about a speeding offence. Surely we can all agree that if MPs can be recalled in those circumstances, constituents should have the same powers to recall their MPs in cases of violence and harassment."
Field was a prominent supporter of Johnson's leadership rival Jeremy Hunt and it was no surprise he was sacked when the new prime minister appointed his government.
He clashed with Barker as Greenpeace protesters disrupted the black-tie Mansion House event in the City of London.
At the time of the incident in June, Barker said she had been left "shaken up" after Field grabbed her by the neck and marched her out of the room as the group staged a peaceful protest.
The mobile billboard will be touring around Field's Cities of London and Westminster constituency throughout the day, stopping by his office at Portcullis House and 10 Downing Street and then joining recall activists collecting signatures at Mansion House at 6pm.
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