French criticism of the British economy was not acceptable, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Friday.

Fillon had called Clegg to explain his remarks after the French protested that credit rating agencies seemed to take a more positive view of the British economy than their own.

Fillon made clear it had not been his intention to call into question the UK's rating but to highlight that ratings agencies appeared more focused on economic governance than deficit levels, Clegg's office said in a statement.

The Deputy Prime Minister accepted his explanation but made the point that recent remarks from members of the French Government about the UK economy were simply unacceptable and that steps should be taken to calm the rhetoric.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Adrian Croft)