David Cameron has warned that child abuse allegations against senior figures within the Conservative Party risked becoming a “witch-hunt” against people on the basis of their sexuality.

The prime minister made the remarks during an interview on ITV’s This Morning programme on Thursday as presenter Phillip Schofield passed him a piece of paper with names of suspected paedophiles on it.

“I’ve heard all sorts of names being banded around and what then tends to happen is, of course, everyone sits around and speculates about people. Some of whom are alive, some of whom are dead,” Mr Cameron said.

“I do think it’s very important that anyone who’s got any information about any paedophile no matter how high up in the country or whether they are alive or dead, go to the police.

“There is a danger, if we’re not careful, that this can turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay.”

Mr Cameron did not look at the list of names.

Mr Schofield said he had found the names after spending “about three minutes” trawling the internet.

In the past week, further sexual abuse allegations have been made against the late Sir Peter Morrison, a gay former Conservative MP and ex-parliamentary aide to Margaret Thatcher.

In an interview broadcast on Tuesday evening, one former resident of a children’s home in Wales told Channel 4 News that he had seen a young boy being driven away in a car by Morrison in the 1970s.

The government has now announced a fresh inquiry into the North Wales child abuse scandel.

According to the BBC, Downing Street sources said Mr Cameron’s fears about a “witch-hunt” were prompted by his objection to online gossip associating homosexuality with paedophilia.

It was “important allegations are handled properly – and people’s reputations are not unnecessarily smeared”, added the source.