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Last Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Boris apology to Papua New Guinea
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is the shadow higher education secretary

Tory MP Boris Johnson - famed for apologising to the city of Liverpool - appears to have gone one better and offended an entire country.

Mr Johnson has been forced to apologise to Papua New Guinea after he linked it to "cannibalism and chief-killing".

The flamboyant frontbencher made the comments in his newspaper column.

But Papua New Guinea's High Commissioner in London failed to see the funny side and Mr Johnson had to issue an apology for causing offence.

The spat was caused by remarks made in Mr Johnson's Daily Telegraph column about the Labour leadership crisis.

Mr Johnson wrote: "For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing, and so it is with a happy amazement that we watch as the madness engulfs the Labour Party."

But Jean L Kekedo, Papua New Guinea's High Commissioner in London, reacted angrily to the remarks.

She said: "I consider the comments, coming from a senior British MP very damaging to the image of Papua New Guinea and an insult to the integrity and intelligence of all Papua New Guineans.

I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us
Boris Johnson

"I wish to state that I am shocked and appalled by such comments from a seemingly well-educated person of very high standing, in fact the alternative minister for higher education in the House of Commons.

"How far removed and ill-informed can Mr Johnson be from the reality of the situation in modern-day Papua New Guinea?"

Ms Kekedo told BBC Radio 4's PM programme she hoped Mr Johnson would visit her country, although he might be refused a visa because of his comments.

'Blameless domesticity'

Mr Johnson sent an apology for any offence caused within minutes of the story emerging, adding that he might embark on apology world tour.

"I would like to thank the High Commissioner very much for her clarification," he said.

"I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us."

Mr Johnson told PM he was not retracting his comments, he thought they were accurate, but not meant to be about modern Papua New Guinea.

He said he had seen a "fantastic" Time Life book which showed photographs of tribesman in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s or 1960s engaged in "primitive warfare and killing".

It seemed a "perfectly fair, florid, flowery metaphor for what's going on in the Labour Party".

Mr Johnson said he would be happy to "add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology".

Liverpool apology

Mr Johnson - whose face is currently being used on recruitment posters for Tory youth wing Conservative Future - is no stranger to controversy.

He quit as shadow arts minister in November 2004 after a row with then Tory leader Michael Howard over an extra-marital affair.

Before that, Mr Howard forced him to visit Liverpool to apologise for an editorial in The Spectator, the magazine he edited at the time, accusing the city of "wallowing in victimhood" over the execution of Iraq hostage Ken Bigley.

He returned to the front bench last year as shadow higher education minister, under new leader David Cameron.

But despite giving up the editor's chair at The Spectator, his journalism appears to have landed him in political hot water again.

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