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

Boris Johnson comments

But Duncan Smith said: "We have a thing called freedom of speech in this country and I don't believe that just because somebody takes offence that means therefore that there has to be an inquiry in terms of whether or not that individual should be shut down for saying what they believe".

Mr Bean and Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson, 63, has defended the ex-Foreign Secretary as he faces an investigation for his controversial comments.

The pro-Boris backlash is growing after the Tory Party yesterday announced that it has opened an investigation into Mr Johnson after he compared women wearing burqas with letterboxes and bank robbers.

It was in his weekly Telegraph column that Mr Johnson made comments which sparked demands for an apology from a host of figures from all sides of politics, including Theresa May, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

The actor, known for his comedy performances in Mr Bean and Blackadder, said the remarks were amusing.

"You should really only apologise for a bad joke".

Boris Johnson comments
People with opposing views have a discussion near Boris Johnson’s office as police look

"I think a lot of your listeners will be deeply anxious about the state of our democracy and free speech", he told talkRadio. "On that basis, no apology is required", he added.

He said: 'I don't think he should apologise.

The Tory Party announced yesterday that it had received a flurry of complaints about Mr Johnson - automatically triggering an investigation into him.

"But I think what's important is that the procedures of the party now take place". His Brexiteer credentials were bolstered when he resigned as foreign secretary in July, accusing May of killing "the Brexit dream" with her plan to seek close economic ties with the bloc after Brexit next year.

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.

Mr Johnson also won support from a surprising source when comedian Rowan Atkinson waded into the furore.


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