Julien Blanc: Minister joins calls to block UK visa

image copyrightYoutube/RSDJulien
image captionJulien Blanc's UK tour is due to start in London in February 2015

A Home Office minister has added her voice to those saying a US "pick-up artist" should be banned from Britain.

Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone told the Guardian she had "no doubt" allowing Julien Blanc to perform in the UK would lead to a rise in sexual harassment.

The self-styled "dating guru" holds seminars claiming to teach men how to attract women but his methods have been widely criticised as sexually abusive.

A Change.org petition seeking to deny him a visa has over 120,000 signatures.

Ms Featherstone, who recently became crime prevention minister, took the unusual step of announcing she was lobbying the home secretary to examine grounds for refusing Mr Blanc entry.

She said: "As the Home Office minister with responsibility for tackling violence against women and girls, I am extremely concerned by the sexist and utterly abhorrent statements Julien Blanc has made about women.

"If he was allowed to perform in the UK I have no doubt that cases of sexual harassment and intimidation would increase."

image copyrightPA
image captionLynne Featherstone replaced Norman Baker as crime prevention minister earlier in November

She added that although free speech is "hugely important", it is "not appropriate to talk about choking girls under any circumstances".

Twitter users have been using the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld to share pictures apparently showing Mr Blanc with his hand around the throats of women that he has himself shared.

'Vile views'

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has also publicly condemned Mr Blanc.

In a letter to the home secretary, Ms Cooper wrote: "Why should we let someone into this country to incite sexual assaults or violence against women?

"There is plenty of evidence of Mr Blanc's vile views and misogynist business, and no interest for Britain in him being able to promote them here in our communities," she continued.

A Home Office spokesman said the department would not comment on individual cases of exclusion.

The spokesman observed: "This home secretary has excluded more foreign nationals on the grounds of unacceptable behaviour than any before her."

image copyrightYoutbe/julienfreetour
image captionJulien Blanc's seminars have been widely condemned

Mr Blanc had to cut his Australian tour short last week because his visa was cancelled following protests there.

His UK tour is due to start in London in February 2015.

On its website, Mr Blanc's company Real Social Dynamics calls itself "the world's largest dating coaching company" and promises customers the chance to "witness dating coaches attract beautiful women in live demonstrations".

The petition to bar him from the UK was started by a woman - using the pseudonym Caroline Charles - who was angry at the material being taught at his seminars.

BBC Newsbeat has tried to contact Real Social Dynamics but is yet to receive a reply.

The home secretary has the power to block a visa application by a foreign national if it is thought their presence in the UK would not be "conducive to the public good".

Last year, Theresa May banned anti-Islamic activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from coming to the UK to join an English Defence League demonstration.

In 2009, then home secretary Jacqui Smith refused to admit Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders.

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