Jeremy Irons has hit out at political correctness, suggesting women do not need to use the law to ‘deal with it’ if a man places a wandering hand on her bottom.

The Oscar-winner told the Radio Times a mountain of legislation had been created by politicians with an excess of time on their hands.

Jeremy, 62, a self-confessed smoking ‘addict’, said: “It’s gone too far. There are too many people in power with too little to do, so they churn out laws to justify their jobs.

“I hope it’s a rash that will wear itself out.”

Jeremy, who shot to fame as Charles Ryder in the 1981 TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, added: “Most people are robust.

“If a man puts his hand on a woman’s bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it. It’s communication. Can’t we be friendly?”

The British actor, who has been married to actress Sinead Cusack for 33 years, also spoke about his private life in the interview.

He said: “Lack of privacy is faintly aggravating, particularly if you have a salacious private life, which I hope most people have. We only live once.

“There are newspaper gossip girls who chat you up at parties when you’re in your cups and should be at home. And there it is (the) next day on the breakfast table.”

Jeremy, who stars in new Sky Atlantic TV series The Borgias, told the magazine it was more difficult for his son, Max, 25, who has been compared to heart-throb Robert Pattinson, than it was for him starting out in the acting business.

He said: “My heart is in my mouth for him. It’s ‘grab ’em and spit ’em out’. In my day it was like that for RADA girls, but it now seems the same for young boys.”