Key denies bats**t Beckham call

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 15:11 07/11/2012
John Key
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
JOHN KEY: The prime minister.
NO EXCUSE:John Key reportedly called David Beckham
Getty Images
DAVID BECKHAM: John Key has denied calling the footballer "thick as bats**t".

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Prime Minister John Key has "categorically" denied saying English footballer David Beckham was as "thick as bats**t".

The reported comment was allegedly made to a group of Dunedin school children last Friday and attracted the attention of international media.

Under questioning about the comment from Winston Peters in Parliament today, Key warned the NZ First leader he was making an assumption he shouldn't make.

"Categorically I did not say that," he said. 

The comment was reported in British and Australian media but Key has previously refused to deny making it.

But he did cast doubt on the remark by saying it was what someone thought he said.

Beckham's London-based agent Simon Oliveira told New Zealand media it wasn't worthy of a response.

It was made the same day Key referred to a radio host's shirt as a "gay red top".

That comment has been widely condemned including by Hobbit star Sir Ian McKellen, who said Key should "watch his language".

McKellen, who has a strong association with New Zealand, said he was touring secondary schools in Britain to attack homophobia in the playground.

"And discouraging kids from the careless use of 'gay' which might make their gay friends and teachers feel less about themselves."

Key refused to comment further yesterday, saying he had dealt with the matter on Monday.

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