Pick-up artist cancels UK events amid anger over rape comments
A "new masculine pick-up artist" who called for the legalisation of rape has cancelled a series of events in the UK following widespread condemnation.
Daryush Valizadeh, who calls himself Roosh V, pulled the plug on the events for "heterosexual men only" after claiming he could no longer guarantee the safety of those who wanted to attend.
The 36-year-old American was labelled as "absolutely repulsive" in parliament amid calls for him to be banned from the UK.
The author of the Return of Kings blog has published 15 books on how to "pick up women" and posts tips on his website on how to "bang" women.
He said: "I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups cannot be made private in time.
"While I can't stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return of Kings meetups.
"The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologise to all the supporters who are let down by my decision."
Protesters had called for the meetings to be banned and a petition lobbying the police and Home Office to ban the UK events has more than 55,000 signatures.
Responding to an urgent question about the meetings, Home Office minister Karen Bradley said the Government "condemns in the strongest terms anyone who condones rape and sexual violence or suggests that responsibility for stopping these crimes rests with the victims".
Following calls to ban Mr Valizadeh from the UK, Ms Bradley said the Government "does not routinely comment on individual immigration or exclusion cases".
However, she stressed the Home Secretary has the power to ban non-British citizens if she believes their presence is "not conducive to the public good".
In one of his posts, Mr Valizadeh said rape should be legalised "if done on private property".
"Less women will be raped because they won't voluntarily drug themselves with booze and follow a strange man into a bedroom, and less men will be unfairly jailed for what was anything but a maniacal alley rape," he wrote.
The events had been planned for London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Shrewsbury.
Shadow women and equalities minister Kate Green said there had been "widespread ridicule" as well as "revulsion" at the group's "antics".
She also asked Ms Bradley whether the group could be placed on the Government's list of banned organisations.
Ms Bradley said the comments and views associated with Mr Valizadeh and the Return of Kings are "absolutely repulsive".
"This has no place in British society," she said.
Northumbria Police said they were pleased to hear the event in Newcastle had been cancelled.
A statement said: "The force is pleased to hear in the media this morning that the event planned by the Return of Kings group in Newcastle on Saturday night has been cancelled.
"The people of Newcastle made their feelings resoundingly clear that the group were not welcome here and that was a view that the force and the Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird wholeheartedly supported."