I'm sorry, says comedian Carr

Comedian Alan Carr has apologised for dedicating a comedy award to kidnapper Karen Matthews.

Carr, who was condemned as "sick" by a Government minister, said: "I realise what I said about Karen Matthews was insensitive and am very sorry for any offence this may have caused."

At Saturday night's British Comedy Awards, Carr told reporters that Matthews was a "gay icon", adding: "People like a bit of rough don't they?"

Junior Justice Minister Shahid Malik said the timing of Carr's remarks could not have been worse.

Mr Malik, who is also MP for Matthews' constituency of Dewsbury, said yesterday: "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 at a time when many people are looking very closely at the comic/comedian profession anyway."

He added: "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."

Matthews and Donovan were convicted last week of the kidnap of her nine-year-old daughter Shannon. The youngster was drugged and imprisoned for 24 days in a plan to claim £50,000 in reward money.

On Saturday night, Carr spoke to reporters backstage after being awarded Best Comedy Entertainment Personality for his Friday Night Project and Sunday Night Project shows.

He said that he originally planned his Celebrity Ding Dong sketch to feature Rough Women not Fashionistas.

"It didn't work out because they couldn't cast it. I suppose it is a bit difficult to find rough women. I suppose Shannon Matthew's mum was busy," he said.

"Oh yeah, she would be my dream guest. I think she's a gay icon. People like a bit of rough don't they?"

Carr added: "I must be obsessed with her actually if you look at my Google searches. So I should dedicate this award to her."