A JOURNALIST has apologised for implying that a Labour MP was supporting murdering police officers with a reference to "Kill the Bill" protests.

John Rentoul, chief political commentator at The Independent, suggested that Labour MP for Hemsworth Jon Trickett was "implying support for murdering police officers" with a tweet referencing opposition of Tory legislation looking to curb protests.

Rentoul has now apologised for the "distress and upset" that his now-deleted tweet caused Trickett.

He wrote: "On 7 May I published a tweet about Jon Trickett MP which described him as 'A Labour MP - a *Labour* MP - who thinks it's clever to use a slogan implying support for murdering police officers'. I based this on a tweet in which Mr Trickett used the 'Kill the Bill' slogan. 

"I accept that Mr Trickett was not condoning violence against police officers and that he was using this phrase to reference his opposition to the Police and Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

"I accept that my tweet was wrong and I sincerely apologise for the distress and upset that my tweet has caused Mr Trickett."

Trickett's original tweet was made a day after people in England went to the polls for council and mayoral elections on May 6.

The Labour MP made a similar tweet on the day of the elections - when Scotland and Wales also elected members to devolved governments - with the same list but the initial line changed to "Kick the Tories in the Ballots" and referencing Tory policies.

READ MORE: MPs vote in favour of 'dangerous and draconian' police powers for protests

The "Kill the Bill" phrase has been used by protestors who have demonstrated against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which includes giving more powers to police in England and Wales to impose conditions on non-violent protests judged to be too noisy and thereby causing “intimidation or harassment” or “serious unease, alarm or distress” to the public.

Time and noise limits could be imposed as a result of the measures and those convicted could face a fine or jail.