Tory hopeful arrested after scuffle at Prescott event

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Indy Politics

A would-be Tory councillor was arrested today after a scuffle at a John Prescott General Election campaign event.

The former deputy prime minister was addressing a crowd in Poplar, east London, this afternoon when the incident took place.

Martin Coxall and another man, both wearing John Prescott masks, allegedly shoved people aside as they tried to reach the politician.

A Tory spokesman said tonight that Mr Coxall, who was standing in East India and Lansbury, had been suspended from the party while it conducted an internal inquiry.

Posting on social networking site Twitter afterwards, 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."

But Labour demanded a public apology from the Tories. Minister for London Tessa Jowell said: "David Cameron and Eric Pickles must make a public apology for the totally unacceptable behaviour of one of their Conservative candidates.

"This kind of violent behaviour is not what we expect from a Conservative Party that aspires to government."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "At about 2pm a disturbance occurred in Chrisp Street, Poplar.

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

"The man, aged in his 30s, is now in custody at an east London police station. The women declined medical attention."

A spokesman for Mr Prescott said he had remained "calm and controlled" throughout the incident, and staged a walkabout afterwards.