Actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson defends Johnson in a burqa rank

Actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, left, has defended Boris Johnson's burqa comments.

British actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, best known around the world for his role as Mr Bean, has defended former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for his comments on the burka.

"As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I think Boris Johnson's joke about burka users that resembles mailboxes is pretty good," Atkinson wrote in a letter to The Times newspaper, published on Friday.

Johnson had compared women who used full-face Islamic coverage with an eye opening for bank robbers and mailboxes in a commentary for The Telegraph newspaper earlier in the week.

After the complaints and his refusal to apologize, he now faces an investigation into whether he broke the code of conduct of his conservative party.

"A near-perfect visual simile and a joke that, whether Mr. Johnson apologizes for it or not, will remain in the public consciousness for a while," Atkinson wrote.

"All jokes about religion cause offenses, so it's useless to apologize for them – in fact, you should only apologize for a bad joke, on that basis, no apology is required," he added.

A woman protests after Boris Johnson's burqa comment.

AAP

Critics inside and outside the conservative party, including Prime Minister Theresa May, have asked Johnson to apologize.

Many say he is pleasing the far right and stoking Islamophobia with his comments.

If it is discovered that he has broken the code of conduct of the party, he could be expelled from it.

She left the cabinet in May after disagreeing with her about her plans for Britain's exit from the European Union.