Police are assessing Jo Brand’s joke about throwing battery acid at politicians, following a complaint.
Brand, 61, has been accused of inciting violence after making the comment on Victoria Coren Mitchell’s Radio 4 show Heresy, while discussing recent protests in which milkshakes have been thrown at right-wing politicians.
The Met Police has now said it is assessing an allegation relating to comments made on a radio programme.
It comes as the comedian sidestepped questions from Sky News following a growing backlash to the joke – but did say that freedom of speech in comedy was “extremely important”.
Watchdog Ofcom has received 65 complaints and Theresa May has called on the BBC, which has defended the comedian, to explain why the joke was broadcast.
Arriving at the Henley Literary Festival, where she is giving talks today, Brand walked away as Sky News asked whether she felt she had crossed the line.
However, when asked whether freedom of speech in comedy was important she was heard to say: “I think it’s extremely important.”
During her appearance on Heresy, in reply to a question about the state of UK politics, Brand said: “Well, yes I would say that but that’s because certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking: ‘Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?’
“That’s just me. I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry.”
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who was covered in milkshake during a campaign walkabout in Newcastle last month, said Brand’s comment was an “incitement of violence and police need to act”.
In response to the complaints, a BBC spokeswoman said: “Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative and go against societal norms but are not intended to be taken seriously.”
Several social media users have compared the BBC’s response with Danny Baker‘s sacking over an alleged racist tweet about royal baby Archie – although Brand was a panellist on the show and not presenting.
Mrs May stepped into the row on Thursday, with her spokesman saying: “The prime minister has consistently said politicians should be able to campaign without harassment, intimidation and abuse.
“It is for the BBC to explain why it was appropriate content to broadcast.”
At the end of show, Coren Mitchell said she hoped Brand’s remarks had not caused offence but added that the aim of the radio series was to “test the boundaries of what it’s okay to say and not say”.
The quiz host and television personality, 46, later responded to Mr Farage on Twitter, accusing him of double standards.
She wrote: “Nigel! I’m genuinely disappointed; we don’t agree on everything, but I would totally have had you down as a free speech man. Especially when it comes to jokes.”
The trend of throwing milkshakes at right-wing politicians and activists began when viral footage showed Tommy Robinson being covered in Warrington.
Since then, several other members of the public have attempted to repeat the protest.