Colonel Ian Brazier
Retired Colonel Ian Brazier (L) and Corporal Joe Eastwood heckle Britain's Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond (not pictured) as he speaks during the first day of the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester. Reuters/Toby Melville

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond came under a verbal barrage when he tried to address the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Sunday.

Hammond was midway through a speech in which he hailed defence cuts as helping the armed forces become a more "efficient and strategic organisation" when he was shouted down by Colonel Ian Brazier of the Royal Fusiliers: "Tell the truth about the disbandment of the Fusiliers. I write you letters, you don't respond. The public must know the truth - the Fusiliers are loyal soldiers, you have betrayed them. Sir, you need to be looking at defence. This is denial, not defence. You're a disgrace."

Hammond promised to speak to Brazier, 59, who was accompanied by Captain Joe Eastwood, 76. Brazier was then ushered from the hall. Later Hammond denied he was personally responsible for the disbandment of the Fusiliers:

"If they'd stayed in the hall a bit longer they would have heard the case that I was building in my speech for why we have to invest in the new capabilities we need to defend Britain."

The conference was disrupted for a second time on an eventful Sunday when a protest march of up to 50,000 demonstrators passed outside the hall, shouting slogans that could be heard inside.

Manchester police called it one of the largest protests they'd ever dealt with and said no arrests had been made.

The march, organised by the TUC and unions including Unite and Unison, hoped to draw attention to what it called the government's backdoor privatisation of the NHS.

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, said: "Austerity is having a devastating effect on our communities and services, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the last three months alone. The NHS is one of Britain's finest achievements and we will not allow ministers to destroy, through cuts and privatisation, what has taken generations to build."

However a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The NHS will stay free for everyone, but it's right that patients should get the best service - regardless of who provides it. Charities, social enterprises and independent providers play an important part in providing NHS care - and have done for many years - helping give patients more choice of where and how they are treated."