Conservative Party suspends member who 'violently assaulted' woman at conference

4 October 2021, 17:48 | Updated: 4 October 2021, 19:58

The alleged attack happened at the Midland Hotel in Manchester
The alleged attack happened at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Conservatives have suspended a member who allegedly assaulted a woman at this week's party conference.

Clementine Cowton, director of external affairs at Octopus Energy Group, reportedly told a fringe event she had been "violently assaulted" while attending the conference in Manchester.

Party officials have confirmed they are now working with the police.

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According to The Times, Ms Cowton said she was in the bar of The Midland Hotel - one of the main destinations at the autumn political gathering - when an inebriated man, who she described as in his 30s, sat in a seat vacated by her friend.

The male attendee, who has also been expelled from the conference, made her so uncomfortable that she asked him "several times politely to leave".

When he refused to go, the senior executive said she took his phone and dropped it on the floor in a bid to get him away from her.

"He went to retrieve it and then he came back and attacked me," Ms Cowton said.

According to the report, Ms Cowton said the man tried to punch her but was stopped by others in the bar, with the resulting scuffle ending up with her glass being smashed.

When approached for comment, Ms Cowton said she was not intending to say more about the incident.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the party has revoked the pass of the individual concerned and is working with the police."

The party later confirmed it had suspended the Tory member following the reported clash.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed it was called to the hotel at about 12.30am on Monday "to reports of an assault on a 33-year-old woman".

A force spokesman added: "Officers arrived quickly, there were no reports of any injures, and no arrests were made, however a man has been identified, had his accreditation removed for the remainder of the Conservative Party Conference. Our investigation into what happened is ongoing."

Ms Cowton has also been contacted to offer support, the Tories said.

She said she went public with what allegedly happened to her because she wanted to emphasise that "women are often unsafe in places where other people feel safe".

Octopus said it would not be commenting.

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