Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has insisted he his “flattered” after the creators of the Beano asked him to stop impersonating their long-running character Walter the Softy.
The Scottish studio behind Britain’s longest-running comic have poked fun at the controversial Brexiteer by accusing him of copying the “iconic hair parting, austere dress sense, distinctive round glasses and snootiness” of Dennis the Menace’s arch-nemesis.
The backbencher has been sent a “cease and desist” letter accusing him of “masquerading” as the character, who made his first appearance in 1953, 16 years before Rees-Mogg was born.
Dundee-based Beano Studios Scotland accused the MP of deploying “adopted trademark imagery and brand essences of the character” to the benefit of his career and popularity.
And it issued a “stern warning” that it is prepared for a high court battle over the “intellectual property rights” of the character, whose real name is Walter Brown.
However Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I’m flattered to be accused by the Beano’s legal eagles of imitating Walter the Softy, whose powerful physical prowess is so much greater than my own.”
Beano bosses say they were prompted to take action after “eagle-eyed young fans” raised concerns over “distinctive similarities” between the North East Somerset MP and the character.
The letter sent to Mr Rees-Mogg accuses him of “numerous instances” of copying Walter, including “bullish behaviour” which stops others from having fun.
Mike Stirling, head of Beano Studios Scotland, told him: “It has been brought to our attention that you have been infringing the intellectual property right of one of our cartoon characters and masquerading as Walter Brown.
“We firmly request that you cease and desist in your ongoing impersonation of the character, which remains the exclusive property of Beano Studios. A swift response on the matter would be greatly appreciated to avoid getting Teacher involved.”
In a separate statement, Mr Stirling said: “We were flattered when we discovered that Jacob Rees-Mogg has dedicated his life to impersonating one of my favourite Beano characters, young Walter.
“Nonetheless, as a hard-working British media company, we would prefer the public gets its Walter fix in the pages of our comics and on Beano.com, rather than played out on the political stage. In other words, bog off Rees-Mogg!”
Mr Rees-Mogg admitted he was a “fairly weedy fellow” and insisted he could not compete with his “macho behaviour.”
He told the BBC that he was “in favour of other people having fun” and said snootiness was “rather unpleasant.”
The MP added: “I did read the Beano as a child but I never thought I’d model myself on Walter the Softy.”
Beano chiefs admitted the bullying of Walter was toned down in the 1980s to help tackle claims that storylines were encouraging “gay-bashing.”
Describing the character in 2013, Mr Stirling said: “He strangles all the fun out of everything. He doesn’t want to be a kid, he wants to be a grown-up and he’s always snitching on kids who are having fun."