A WEST Sussex council leader has called out racism amongst fans of Lord of the Rings.

In a Tweet that has been ‘liked’ more than 900 times, Arun District Council leader Shaun Gunner said he was "disgusted" by comments from "part of the Tolkien community".

Mr Gunner is chair of the Tolkien Society, a registered charity "devoted to the study and promotion of the life and works" of its namesake.

He called out some fans following comments they made about race ahead of the forthcoming Amazon Prime series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

He said: “I feel absolutely disgusted by parts of the Tolkien community today and the prejudice I’ve seen.

“In particular, their utter refusal to countenance the idea of people of colour portraying Tolkien’s characters.

“There is nothing to say that these characters cannot be portrayed by people of colour (particularly ones Amazon have invented!).

“And if there were, so what? Why choose to focus on someone’s skin colour over all the other things that are being changed?”

Mr Gunner claimed there was a "dark and frightening underbelly of racism" among the "Tolkien community".

He was joined by the former leader of Worthing Borough Council, Dan Humphreys, who Tweeted: “I’ve been reading The Hobbit to my eldest daughter and I can’t recall the paragraph detailing Bilbo, Gandalf or Thorin’s skin colour. And even if there was a description? Come on.”