Ja Rule denied entry to the UK - days before tour starts

US rapper Ja Rule says he is "devastated" after being denied entry to the UK - days before his tour begins.

The Livin' It Up star, whose real name is Jeffrey Bruce Atkins Senior, is due to kick off his Sunrise tour in Cardiff on Friday before further gigs in Liverpool, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham and London.

But he says he won't be on stage because he is not allowed to enter the country due to his criminal record, having previously served two years in prison on gun and tax evasion charges.

"I'm so devastated. I can't believe the UK won't let me in," he wrote on X, adding he's spent a "half million dollars in production" of his own money to put the tour together.

"This is not fair to me or my fans, these venues are 85% sold and now I can't come."

Tickets for the shows are still available on Ticketmaster - and he said on Wednesday that he made his criminal record clear to the promoter beforehand.

He encouraged fans to ask for refunds and promised he will do "something special" for his UK fans as he will "never be able to come across the pond".

"The UK is one of the few European countries that restricts entry to people with criminal records," he posted.

"In general, you will likely be denied entry if you have been convicted of a crime punishable by 23 months or more under British law or served more than 12 months in prison."

Ticketmaster told Sky News that refunds for the cancelled show will be processed automatically, and initially told fans online that "once we receive confirmed info an email will be sent to all customers for the event".

Read more:
Adele postpones Las Vegas residency dates as illness takes 'toll on voice'
Jam Master Jay killing: Two men found guilty of murder of Run-DMC star

Ja Rule - best known for hits such as Always On Time and Thug Lovin' - was due to be supported on the tour by Mya, Keri Hilson and Lloyd.

The rapper was previously at the centre of controversy over the doomed Fyre Festival, but was cleared of any legal wrongdoing.

The disastrous 2017 event resulted in organiser Billy McFarland going to prison for fraud.

The festival was scheduled to take place in the Bahamas in 2017, but caused more than £20m in losses when it was cancelled for inadequate accommodation, food and water.