The Hollywood actress appeared on the front of Time Out London in a top emblazoned with the slogan "I'd rather be a rebel than a slave" to promote her new movie Suffragette.

The quote is attributed to women's rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst, who is played by Meryl in the new drama, but it has caused controversy over its perceived references to slavery.

A number of campaigners, including prominent African-American activist and author Kevin Powell, have condemned Meryl's decision to wear the T-shirt.

However, editors of Time Out London have now defended the controversial shoot, insisting the words have been taken "out of context".

"This is a quote from a 1913 speech given by Emmeline Pankhurst," the statement explains. "The original quote was intended to rouse women to stand up against oppression - it is a rallying cry, and absolutely not intended to criticize those who have no choice but to submit to oppression, or to reference the (U.S.) Confederacy, as some people who saw the quote and photo out of context have surmised...

"The context of the photoshoot and the feature were absolutely clear to readers who read the piece. It has been read by at least half a million people in the U.K. and we have received no complaints."

Kevin Powell, a prominent African-American activist and author, previously told WENN of the stunt: "I think my white sisters and brothers like Meryl Streep, no matter how famous or talented, need to understand that slavery or references to slavery is not something to take lightly...

"While I am very much an ally to women and girls in the work for equality on all levels, I think we've got to be mindful of dissing others while calling for our own freedoms. What might be oppression to one group can easily become privilege and enthusiastic ignorance to another group."