Conservative MP Michael Gove has been accused of trivialising sexual assault after he jokingly compared being interviewed on radio to going into Harvey Weinstein's bedroom.

The environment minister made the comments on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme during a special 60th anniversary edition on Saturday morning.

"Sometimes I think coming into the studio with you John is a bit like going into Harvey Weinstein's bedroom - you hope to emerge with your dignity intact," Gove told presenter John Humphrys.

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who also appeared on the programme, added: "John goes way past groping, way past groping."

Although the comments were met with laughter from the live audience, many have criticised Gove for making light of the allegations faced by Weinstein.

Dozens of women have accused the Hollywood producer of sexually harassing or assaulting them. Weinstein has denied the allegations but he has been fired from the company he set up and he has been stripped of several honours. The board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revoked his membership earlier this month.

Gove's remarks also come in the wake of a developing sexual harassment scandal at the Palace of Westminster itself. Female staff have reportedly been using a WhatsApp chat group to warn each other about which "sex pest" MPs to avoid.

Gove was criticised for joking about the assault and harassment accusations faced by Weinstein.

Labour MP Jess Phillips, a member of the House of Commons Women and Equalities select committee, tweeted: "Michael Gove just left the studio without his dignity."

"This look didn't work for James Corden," Labour MP Stella Creasy added, in reference to a failed joke recently made by the comedian. "Gove joking about sexual assault just as crass too."

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson said: "I have never once feared for my personal safety in a media studio. Don't trivialise sexual assault."

Gove tweeted an apology for his "clumsy attempt at humour" which he said was not "appropriate".

"I'm sorry and apologise unreservedly," he said, around 90 minutes after the radio programme was broadcast.