Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has apologised after a photo of him in brown-face make-up at a costume party in 2001 emerged.

The picture was taken while he was a teacher at the West Point Grey Academy at an Arabian Nights themed gathering and appeared in the private school’s yearbook.

The photo obtained by Time Magazine shows the then 29-year-old with other members of the faculty. Several are in fancy dress, but Mr Trudeau is the only one who appears to have coloured his skin.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Trudeau said: In 2001, when I was a teacher in Vancouver I attended an end-of-year gala where the theme was Arabian Nights and I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put make-up on.

I shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve known better but I didn’t. And I’m really sorry.

Mr Trudeau, who has several people from ethnic minorities in his cabinet, added: I have made a number of calls to friends and colleagues tonight and I will have many more colleagues, many more calls to make.

He went on: I’m going to be asking Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it.

It was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m p****d off at myself for having done it. I wish I hadn’t done it but I did it, and I apologise for it.

Reacting to the picture, the leader of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer said: Like all Canadians I was extremely shocked and disappointed when I learned of Justin Trudeau’s actions this evening.

Wearing brown face as an act of open mockery and racism. It was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019.

And what Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgement and integrity, and someone who is not fit to govern this country.

The photo is particularly embarrassing for Mr Trudeau as he has championed the rights of minority groups during his four years in office.

It also comes just a week after he launched his campaign for re-election.

In February this year he was accused of pressuring his then-attorney general to drop corruption charges against a Canadian engineering firm, an accusation he denies.

(c) Sky News 2019: Justin Trudeau sorry for brown-face photo: ‘It was a dumb thing to do’