Alan Carr has said sorry for calling a mother convicted last week of kidnapping her own child a “gay icon.”

Karen Matthews and an accomplice held her daughter Shannon in a house in Dewsbury while a huge police search was launched.

The nine-year-old was eventually found at the home of Michael Donovan.

She had been held for 24 days and drugged during her ordeal.

The pair, who wanted to collect a £50,000 reward for her return, are awaiting sentencing.

Speaking to journalists outside the British Comedy Awards on Saturday Mr Carr said Matthews was a gay icon. He later retracted the comment.

“I realise what I said about Karen Matthews was insensitive and am very sorry for any offence this may have caused,” he said.

Justice minister Shahid Malik, who is the MP for Dewsbury, said:
“I think Alan Carr can be funny on occasion but I think last night he really let himself down.

“The timing couldn’t be worse. I think most people think it to be both sick and insensitive and people will be disgusted with him.

“This isn’t a helpful contribution either to the sad case of Shannon Matthews where we’ve only just got a conviction, and Michael Donovan and Karen Matthews haven’t even been sentenced yet.”

It is not the first time that Mr Carr has been criticised by an MP.

The presenter of Channel 4’s Celebrity Ding Dong and The Friday Night Project is the son of Graham Carr, a former professional footballer who was manager of Maidstone United for less than a year in 1991.

In October he criticised Maidstone, claiming it is full of homophobic narrow-minded morons.

“And it wasn’t just me. If you were black or Asian, you got racist abuse. If you were a woman you got, “show us your tits,'” he said.

The town’s MP, former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe, was not impressed.

“He is talking complete rot,” she said.

“We have very high standards of behaviour and beliefs in Maidstone and it is obvious from his comments that he fails to meet them.”