Claims that the villain in the Marks & Spencer Christmas advert swears at Paddington bear have been scotched once and for all.

In the big-budget festive ad, Paddington inadvertently saves Christmas for his neighbours after mistaking a bearded burglar dressed in red for Santa and helping him to return the presents he has stolen.

But it caused controversy after viewers believed they heard the burglar make the parting comment: “F*** you, little bear.”

M&S had said it was “clear” that the words were in fact “thank you, little bear”.

The UK’s advertising watchdog has determined that the advert does not include a single swear word.

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which received three complaints about the ad, said: “Whilst we appreciated that some viewers may have misinterpreted this, the ad did not contain a swear word and therefore did not break the rules.”

He added: “There were no grounds for an investigation.”

The retailer worked with StudioCanal to create the festive advert, ahead of the release of the film Paddington 2.

Featuring the voice of Ben Whishaw as Paddington, it also included a cameo appearance by veteran newsreader Angela Rippon.