The Metropolitan Police’s specialist crime and investigations directorate is considering whether a Sun comment piece breached the Public Order Act.
It follows a letter sent from the Society of Black Lawyers to Met commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe last week claiming that a column by Katie Hopkins was an incitement to racial hatred.
The Public Order Act states that it is an offence for any person to display, publish or distribute written material that is threatening, abusive or insulting if they intend to stir up racial hatred.
The Hopkins piece about immigrants coming to Europe by sea from North Africa has also prompted 296,000 to sign a petition calling for her to be sacked.
And on Friday the UN high commissioner for human rights called the UK "authorities " to take action to stop tabloid newspapers inciting racial hatred in the wake of the piece.
The article followed the death of hundreds of migrants crossing from North Africa into Europe by boat
In it, she said: "NO, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad."
She also said: "Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit 'Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984', but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.
"Once gunships have driven them back to their shores, boats need to be confiscated and burned on a huge bonfire."
A Met Police spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have received allegations of incitement to racial hatred.
“The matter has been passed to assistant commissioner Patricia Gallon at the specialist crime and investigations directorate for consideration. There have been no arrests.”
In a statement on Friday UN human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on all European countries to take a "firmer line on racism and xenophobia" which he said “under the guise of freedom of expression, are being allowed to feed a vicious cycle of vilification, intolerance and politicisation of migrants, as well as of marginalised European minorities such as the Roma".
“This is not only sapping compassion for the thousands of people fleeing conflict, human rights violations and economic deprivation who are drowning in the Mediterranean. The nasty underbelly of racism that is characterising the migration debate in an increasing number of EU countries, has skewed the EU response to the crisis.”
He said that this has helped lead the EU to focus on deterrence and preventing movement “at all costs” which he said was “making the crisis even worse, and could sadly result in further massive loss of life”.
Al Hussein said: “This vicious verbal assault on migrants and asylum seekers in the UK tabloid press has continued unchallenged under the law for far too long.
“I am an unswerving advocate of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but it is not absolute. Article 20 of the same Covenant says ‘Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.’”
He said: “The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches. This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author.”
The UN press statement said The Sun article was one of the more extreme examples of “thousands of anti-foreigner articles that have appeared in UK tabloids over the past two decades”.
Al Hussein said: “To give just one glimpse of the scale of the problem, back in 2003 the Daily Express ran 22 negative front pages stories about asylum seekers and refugees in a single 31-day period.
“Asylum seekers and migrants have, day after day, for years on end, been linked to rape, murder, diseases such as HIV and TB, theft, and almost every conceivable crime and misdemeanour imaginable in front-page articles and two-page spreads, in cartoons, editorials, even on the sports pages of almost all the UK’s national tabloid newspapers.
“Many of these stories have been grossly distorted and some have been outright fabrications. Elsewhere in Europe, as well as in other countries, there has been a similar process of demonisation taking place, but usually led by extremist political parties or demagogues rather than extremist media.”
Katie Hopkins remains a Sun columnist and her piece remains online.