Female executive tells how she was ‘violently assaulted’ in hotel bar at Tory conference

Clementine Cowton is the director of external affairs at Octopus Energy Group

Clementine Cowton is the director of external affairs at Octopus Energy Group

Clementine Cowton is the director of external affairs at Octopus Energy Group

A female executive has said she was ‘violently assaulted’ at a hotel bar at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

Clementine Cowton, the director of external affairs at Octopus Energy Group, told a fringe event she was attacked at the Midland hotel on Sunday night.

She said the ‘intoxicated’ culprit was in his mid-30s, white and bald, and ‘invaded’ her space and refused to leave despite her asking ‘politely’ several times.

But the 33-year-old told the event he refused to leave so she took his phone and dropped it on the floor to create space between them when he picked it up.

As the man, who has not been named, went to retrieve it, he allegedly ‘came back and attacked’ Miss Cowton.

She claimed he tried to punch her but he was ‘immediately set upon by lots of people who stopped him from doing anything’.

Miss Cowton said that he only managed to get as far as ‘smashing a glass’ out of her hand.

The executive added she reported the incident to police after officers came over to her 20 minutes later.

The shocking revelation came amid a torrent of negative press coming out of the Conservative Party Conference.

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said he was assaulted by a group of men on his way to the Mercure hotel.

Meanwhile Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg was confronted by a man with cerebral palsy over benefit tests.

Clementine Cowton is pictured at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday

Clementine Cowton is pictured at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday

Clementine Cowton is pictured at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday

Miss Cowton, who previously worked for PR giant Edelman, told the event on Monday afternoon: ‘So sorry to dump this on everybody.’

The Durham University politics graduate continued: ‘It was a bit of a surprise but I do want to just take the opportunity to say, women are often unsafe in places where other people feel safe, and it’s really important that we start to take that much more seriously as a society and, starting with the police.’

A Conservative Party spokesman told MailOnline: ‘This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Party has revoked the pass of the individual concerned and is working with the police.’

Energy Minister Greg Hands said it was a ‘shocking account’ and ‘we all stand with you’, according to the Times.

He added: ‘If there’s anything that can be done to assist the investigation, then I think we would all in this whole conference wish to assist in that.

Miss Cowton says she called the police after she was 'violently assaulted' at a hotel bar at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on Sunday night

Miss Cowton says she called the police after she was 'violently assaulted' at a hotel bar at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on Sunday night

Miss Cowton says she called the police after she was ‘violently assaulted’ at a hotel bar at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on Sunday night

‘But thank you for telling us about it and… giving us a real example of such a big challenge that this country as a whole is facing.’

A police spokesman said: ‘Police responded to an incident at the Midland hotel at around 12:30am this morning (Monday 4 October) to reports of an assault on a 33-year-old woman.

‘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. GMP is here to protect. Women’s safety is a top priority, and something we continue to take incredibly seriously.

‘If you see or hear anything that doesn’t seem quite right, don’t hesitate to get in touch with police, which you can do via LiveChat on our website www.gmp.police.uk, or call 101, or 999 in an emergency.’

Miss Cowton told a fringe event today that she was assaulted in the conference zone by a man in the bar of the Midland hotel in the city

Miss Cowton told a fringe event today that she was assaulted in the conference zone by a man in the bar of the Midland hotel in the city

Miss Cowton told a fringe event today that she was assaulted in the conference zone by a man in the bar of the Midland hotel in the city

MailOnline has contacted the Midland hotel for comment.

Miss Cowton went to the Henrietta Barnett Grammar School in Hampstead Garden Suburb in London.

She later studied politics at Hatfield College, Durham, before joining PR giant Edelman as a public affairs intern, assistant account executive, then account executive.

She stayed with the firm for over two years before moving to Newington Communications as a senior account manager then account director.

She stayed there for nearly three years before leaving for Octopus Energy Group, where she has been for four years.

Miss Cowton describes herself on Twitter as: ‘Feminist, environmentalist, energy geek.’

Meanwhile Sir Iain revealed he was assaulted by a group of men as he headed to the Mercure hotel.

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured today) said he was assaulted by a group of men on his way to the Mercure hotel

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured today) said he was assaulted by a group of men on his way to the Mercure hotel

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured today) said he was assaulted by a group of men on his way to the Mercure hotel

He was joined there by Cabinet Office minister Lord Frost but left halfway through to report the attack to police.

The former party leader told the Spectator that one of the men allegedly threw a traffic cone at his head.

He told the magazine: ‘For half a second I was about to go up and punch them, I went forward and they all backed off – I nearly knocked them out, lost my rag.

‘I can’t tell you very much other than they just followed us, used abusive language, attacked us and used a cone.

‘I have to say I would have very nearly been done for assault myself, I turned after them and they sort of backed off and I dropped the cone.’

A police spokesman said: ‘Officers were on the scene within minutes. There aren’t believed to be any serious injuries, and following a short foot pursuit three men and two women have been arrested in connection with it, and remain in custody for questioning. Enquiries are ongoing.’

Elsewhere Mr Rees-Mogg was confronted by a man with cerebral palsy who spoke to him about cuts and fitness to work tests.

Elsewhere Mr Rees-Mogg was confronted by a man with cerebral palsy who spoke to him about cuts and fitness to work tests (pictured)

Elsewhere Mr Rees-Mogg was confronted by a man with cerebral palsy who spoke to him about cuts and fitness to work tests (pictured)

Elsewhere Mr Rees-Mogg was confronted by a man with cerebral palsy who spoke to him about cuts and fitness to work tests (pictured)

Dominic Hutchins, 43, from Stockport, Manchester, told the Leader of the House of Commons about his experience of the checks outside the Midland Hotel.

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: ‘I strongly advise you to speak to your MP.’

Mr Hutchins later told the Mirror: ‘He heard me but it’s all lip service. A lot of people with disabilities can’t do this, their voices aren’t heard so I tried to go out to make the point.

‘If I don’t do it, the people like me who have cerebral palsy will never be heard.’

Annual conferences thrown by the main political parties are infamously alcohol-fuelled occasions attended by thousands of members, lobbyists, politicians and journalists.

They are littered with pop up bars, watering holes and catered events – at many of which the wine flows freely from lunchtime.

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