Mr Bean, an imam and a rabbi walk into Boris burqa furore

Lawrence Kim
August 10, 2018

Comedian Rowan Atkinson, best known for his roles in Blackadder, Mr. Bean and Johnny English, has defended Johnson.

"You may not agree with the tone or the jokes, but we have a thing called freedom of speech in this country", Duncan Smith told the BBC's Today programme.

He explained there was a complaints procedure within the Conservative Party and that the Party had a mechanism for dealing with these issues. "On that basis, no apology is required", he added.

It's not the first time Atkinson has got involved in controversy around free speech.

The party has received complaints that the comments breach its code of conduct, and under Conservative rules they must be investigated by an independent panel.

Johnson's comments followed Denmark introducing a ban on burqas in public places.

Meanwhile, Conor Burns, Tory MP and backer of Mr Johnson, said: "It would be perverse and freaky were the party to launch a formal investigation".

Labour, which has faced continued pressure over its handling of anti-Semitism in the party, fell three points to 35%.

The remarks faced harsh criticism, and he was asked by Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis, to apologise.

"It's not the job of the Prime Minister to tell backbenchers what to do".

But the former Cabinet minister, who is holidaying overseas, has made no response to demands for an apology.

But Atkinson, in a letter to The Times, said the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip had just been telling a joke.

Disciplinary action could lead to Mr Johnson being suspended or even expelled from the Conservative Party.

Johnson, who quit the government last month in a dispute over Brexit, wrote in The Daily Telegraph this week that it was "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes".

Under party rules, the head of the investigation may dismiss complaints that are obviously trivial or lacking in merit and those which can not fairly be investigated.

The Tory peer said he had received a wave of abuse since speaking out against Mr Johnson.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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