Environment Secretary Michael Gove has apologised unreservedly for an on air joke about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Mr Gove faced a furious backlash on social media after suggesting that being interviewed by BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys was like "going into Harvey Weinstein's bedroom.
In a tweet he said: "Apologies for my clumsy attempt at humour on R4 Today this morning -it wasn't appropriate. I'm sorry and apologise unreservedly."
Mr Gove was being interviewed by Mr Humphrys in front of a live audience for the 60th anniversary edition of Radio 4's flagship Today programme.
Asked what it was like appearing on the programme, Mr Gove replied: "Sometimes I think going into the studio with you John is a bit like going into Harvey Weinstein's bedroom. You just pray you emerge with your dignity intact."
Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, who was being interviewed alongside him, joined in, saying: "John goes way past groping. Way past groping."
Their comments were greeted with laughter and some clapping from some members of the audience in London's Wigmore Hall.
Listeners took to Twitter to condemn Mr Gove for his remark, including Labour MP Jess Phillips, who wrote: "Michael Gove just left the studio without his dignity."
Actor Stephen Mangan wrote: "Morning. Here's a rape joke from Michael Gove to start your day."
One listener commented that "there are no words for how appalling he is" while another said "Rape and harassment are not a joke @BBCr4today #r4today".
Labour MP Stella Creasy noted that a similar attempt at humour by comedian James Corden had also backfired, adding: "Gove joking about sexual assault just as crass too."
Former Labour minister Lord Adonis said: "Seriously inappropriate 'joke' sums up a discreditable episode of @BBCr4today self-congratulation."
The row erupted at a time when the conduct of MPs is under intense scrutiny, amid reports that at least four have been the subject of sexual misconduct allegations.
Labour backbencher Jared O'Mara has had the party whip suspended over a series of misogynistic and homophobic online postings.
He has also been accused of calling a constituent an "ugly bitch" - a claim which he denies.