The leader of Brent Council has defended the decision to invite a drag queen to launch a summer event at the borough’s libraries.

Cllr Muhammed Butt said he was “delighted” to welcome Mama G to the council to promote this year’s ‘summer reading challenge’.

Mama G is a panto dame and drag queen who specialises in storytelling. Her shows are described as suitable for families, including children aged three and above.

But the council faced some online criticism following the launch event, with some describing it as “poor judgment” and “disrespectful”.

The performer has previously been criticised for teaching children how to ‘twerk’ – a dance involving hip-thrusting movements – at similar library events.

Cllr Butt tweeted that Mama G’s performance contained “age-appropriate messages about inclusion and acceptance”.

“We pride ourselves on the respect and love we have for others and the passion we have for equality,” he wrote.

“We work with all communities and will always make sure that welcome is extended to all.

“Panto dames have been part of British culture for over a century. It was a public event, so parents could choose whether or not to bring their child along.

“We have long championed inclusion and diversity and will continue to do so.”

He added that “most parents” will agree that young people should be made to feel safe and included.