BARNET Council has denied censoring staff by putting a ban on mother-in-law jokes, after a handout used at a training session described them as “sexist” and disrespectful to elders.

Around 30 staff members attending the equality and diversity practise workshop were given the booklet cautioning them on their use of humour.

In the document, put together by a £550-a-day independent trainer it says: “Careful on Humour: Humour can be incredibly culture-specific, and is very open to misinterpretation or even offense [sic] by other cultures. And don’t forget: when you don’t know what people are laughing at, it is easy to imagine that they are laughing at you.

“Example: British mother-in-law jokes, as well as offensively sexist in their own right, can also be seen as offensive on the grounds that they disrespect elders or parents.”

However, a spokesman for Barnet Council said the document was not a policy document, but merely used as an example of how workers should be mindful of causing offence to people of other cultures.

They added: "Barnet council does not have a policy on mother-in-law jokes.

“The information was given in a handout to 30 staff who attended a one off training course by a third party trainer and is not a council document.

“Our advice to staff is that they should be polite and avoid giving offence to any member of the public.”