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Campaigners hail Blanc visa refusal

Campaigners have welcomed the news that a misogynistic American "pick-up artist" who offered sexist and violent tips on how to attract women has been barred from the UK.

Self-styled "dating guru" Julien Blanc was forced to apologise this week after he was accused of inciting violence with a string of "utterly abhorrent" comments, but had planned to bring his seminars to the UK later this month.

It triggered a petition signed by more than 150,000 people calling for the 26-year-old to have his visa application declined.

The Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases, bu t Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, a Home Office minister who lobbied Home Secretary Theresa May to ban Mr Blanc, confirmed the decision.

She said: "Julien Blanc's presence in the UK could have led to an increase in sexual violence and harassment. I am delighted that Mr Blanc won't be coming to our shores."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said of his Lib Dem colleague Ms Featherstone on Twitter: "Very pleased that (she) pushed for Julien Blanc to be denied entry to the UK."

News of Mr Blanc's ban has been welcomed by campaigners and those who backed calls for the visa application to be turned down.

Sarah Green, spokeswoman for the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: "Julien Blanc's so-called pick-up coaching promotes behaviour amounting to sexual harassment and sexual assault which is why we welcome the decision to deny him a visa.

"Julien Blanc may have thought his brand of racism and misogyny would be acceptable in the UK but actually people here reject such incitement and hate. Hopefully the market for such coaching will soon collapse altogether."

Writer Daisy Buchanan said: "It makes me very happy that, on International Men's Day, Julien Blanc does not get to be an International Man."

Author James Howell wrote: "Well done Theresa May/Home Office for banning this vile little p**** from the UK."

Caroline Charles, who started the online petition, wrote: "Victory! Well done to all who signed, shared and spread the word."

Mr Blanc has attracted a flurry of criticism for his advice on how to attract women.

It included several posts on social media which show him clasping his hands around women's throats with the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld, while he has also spoken of grabbing women and forcing them towards him.

Earlier this week, he appeared on American television station CNN and apologised for some of his material, including an image of him holding a T-shirt bearing an offensive and sexist message.

He said: "I just want to apologise to anybody I've offended in any way. It was never my intention and I just want to put it out there. I'm extremely sorry for everything that happened.

"My intentions were never bad. I agree it was a horrible attempt at humour and unfortunately a lot of it also got taken out of context.

"I 100% take responsibility. I apologise 100% for it. I'm extremely sorry. I feel horrible - I'm not going to be happy if I feel like I'm the most hated man in the world.

"I'm overwhelmed by the way people are responding. With those pictures of me choking women, that's not what I teach. It's a horrible attempt at humour."

Mr Blanc describes himself as an executive coach for Real Social Dynamics (RSD), "the international leader in dating advice".

RSD's website had been advertising a "bootcamp" to teach the firm's techniques in London, starting on November 27. Concern over Mr Blanc's ability to attend has already seen some customers inquire about a refund.

A social media campaign in Australia saw him forced to cut short his visit there earlier this month.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good or if their exclusion is justified on public policy grounds.

"It is longstanding practice that we do not comment on individual exclusion cases unless they are made public by the excluded individual.

"This Home Secretary has excluded more foreign nationals on the grounds of unacceptable behaviour than any before her."

More than 150,000 people in the UK signed a petition asking the Home Secretary to refuse Mr Blanc entry.

Comedian and activist Russell Brand responded to a picture which emerged online of him posing with Mr Blanc, saying that he is "100% wholeheartedly" against treating women disrespectfully.

In a video posted on YouTube, he said: "I had a photo done with him (Blanc), it seems, years ago.

"I never knew who that was - so many people come up to me all the time (and say) 'Can I have a photo please?'

"I just go 'yeah', because when you say no you look really snidey.

"But I've read that he is into treating women in a derogatory, derisory and insulting and a sort of not loving way, so obviously I'm against that.

" I'm down on that, I'm against treating women in a disrespectful way."

Brand resigned from his Radio 2 show in 2008 after he and Jonathan Ross left a lewd message on Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs's phone about his granddaughter.

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