A mobile phone advert with a winking Jesus has been banned for being “disrespectful” to Christians.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the Phones 4U advert after receiving 98 complaints.

The ASA said the ad “gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs”.

The group added: 'We therefore concluded that the ads were disrespectful to the Christian faith and were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians"

Phones 4U said they meant to show “a light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity”, rather than to show disrespect.

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The ad appeared in newspapers on 21 April this year, just before Easter, showing Jesus winking and giving a thumbs-up.

It used the term “miraculous” in reference to a mobile phone deal.

Phones 4U said it apologised, withdrew the ad and sent swift personal apologies to all the people who had complained.

The company said that in hindsight it “understood and regretted” that offence had been caused.