Julien Blanc: UK denies visa to 'pick-up artist'

Media caption,
Documentary maker Tim Samuels went to one of the seminars

Controversial US "pick-up artist" Julien Blanc has been barred from entering the UK by the Home Office.

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 petition to deny him a visa attracted more than 150,000 signatures ahead of his UK tour, due to start in February.

Mr Blanc has apologised, saying his intention was "a horrible attempt at humour" taken out of context.

Crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone said she was "delighted Mr Blanc won't be coming to our shores".

In one recorded seminar, Mr Blanc is seen approaching girls and forcing their heads towards his crotch.

In the same video, he advises people on 'picking up' in Japan. "At least in Tokyo, if you're a white male, you can do what you want," he says.

"I'm romping through the street just grabbing girls. It's awesome."

Lib Dem MP Ms Featherstone said last week she was "extremely concerned" by the "sexist and utterly abhorrent statements" Mr Blanc had 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," she said.

Misogynist business

The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers his or her presence in the UK is "not conducive to the public good".

However, a spokesman for the Home Office said it did not comment on individual exclusion cases - unless they were made public by the excluded individual.

The decision has been greeted by campaigners and those who backed calls for Mr Blanc's visa to be turned down.

Author and columnist Daisy Buchannan tweeted: "It makes me very happy that on #InternationalMensDay, Julien Blanc does not get to be an International Man."

Novelist Jojo Moyes tweeted: "I'm not sure we should have banned Julien Blanc. Might have been more effective for women to buy up all the seats and just laugh at him."

Mr Blanc has already had to cut short a recent tour of Australia because his visa was cancelled following protests there.

On its website, his 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".

But critics say videos and pictures of Mr Blanc in action show that he encourages men to harass women with the aim of having sex with them.

Image source, Youtube/RSDJulien
Image caption,
Julien Blanc's UK tour was due to start in London in February 2015

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.

Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper publicly condemned Mr Blanc and wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May to express her concerns.

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

Appearing on US network CNN on Monday, Mr Blanc said: "I just want to apologize, you know, to anybody I've offended in any way.

"This was never my intention, and I just wanted to add that I'm extremely sorry for - for everything that happened."

Last year, Mrs 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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