Second Conservative activist arrested over John Prescott event scuffle

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The Independent Online

A second Tory activist has been arrested in connection with a scuffle at a John Prescott General Election campaign event, it was revealed today.

Conservative council candidate Martin Coxall and another man allegedly tried to reach the former deputy prime minister as he addressed a crowd in Poplar, east London, yesterday afternoon.

Mr Coxall - who has now been suspended by the party - was detained immediately after the incident for allegedly assaulting two women.

But the Metropolitan Police disclosed today that the other activist had also been arrested.

A spokesman said: "Two men were spoken to by police about their behaviour. One was arrested on suspicion of assaulting two women aged 46 and 61.

"The second man, aged in his 50s, was arrested later on suspicion of assault.

"Both have been released on bail pending further inquiries until a date in May."

Both of the activists were wearing John Prescott masks as they attempted to disrupt the event.

Aides to the ex-Cabinet minister - who famously punched an egg-thrower during the 2001 election campaign - said he remained "calm and controlled" throughout.

Posting on social networking site Twitter yesterday, Mr Prescott wrote: "I'm alright after the scuffle. He didn't touch me but I was worried about the ladies. He was wearing a John Prescott mask! Bizarre."

He added: "Expect this from BNP not Tories."

Responding to Mr Prescott on Twitter, Conservative chairman Eric Pickles wrote: "Glad you are ok hope no one hurt - I have asked for a Party investigation - physical force is unacceptable in politics."

A party spokesman added: "We do not accept or tolerate aggressive behaviour while campaigning for this party.

"We have opened an investigation into this incident, as a result of which those involved have had their membership suspended pending the outcome of this investigation."