A government campaign to use fried chicken boxes to cut knife crime, which was slammed by Lewisham's mayor, cost the taxpayer more than £57,000, it has been revealed.

More than 300,000 boxes featuring warnings about the dangers of carrying a knife were circulated to shops across England and Wales last month.

The controversial move was slammed by senior political figures including Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Lewisham mayor Damien Egan.

A Freedom of Information request published today (12/9) revealed the total cost of the boxes was £57,499.10, working out at an average of around 18p per box.

The data shows the money came from a £1,000,000 budget for the #knifefree campaign, according to student news site The Tab, which filed the request.

Labour MP Mr Lammy called the boxes, distributed to Morley's, Chicken Cottage, and Dixy Chicken branches, "either explicitly racist or, at best, unfathomably stupid."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott described the plan as "crude" and "offensive".

However, Home Secretary Priti Patel defended the campaign, accusing Ms Abbott of "playing politics with knife crime".

Printed inside the special boxes were first-hand accounts of young people who have opted to pursue pastimes such as boxing or music instead of carrying a knife.

A Home Office spokesman said: "This activity was part of our wider #knifefree campaign which also included outdoor posters in priority areas, advertising on social media, radio and digital, in addition to street teams distributing materials in local communities.

"Government policies and programmes affect the lives of millions of people and in order for them to work, they must be communicated effectively to engage the public and effect positive behaviour change.

"However, this has to be done with cost efficiency in mind and there are strict rules to ensure value for money on Government advertising."