Rapper Ja Rule denied UK entry ahead of Cardiff gig

Rapper Ja Rule has claimed that he was denied admission into the UK just days before his tour was set to begin in Cardiff.

The US musician, real name Jeffrey Bruce Atkins Sr., was scheduled to begin the British leg of his Sunrise tour at the city's Utilita Arena on Friday.

The 47-year-old cited his criminal past as the reason for the refusal.

He was also scheduled to play shows in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, and Liverpool.

Best known for hits such as Always On Time (with Ashanti) and Thug Lovin', he commented on social media: "I'm really upset - I can't believe the UK won't let me in.

"I've spent a half million dollars of my own money to put this tour together only to be denied entry days before my shows.

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

Ja Rule, who was released from prison in May 2013 after serving two years on gun possession and tax evasion charges, added: "The UK is one of the few European countries that restricts entry to people with criminal records.

"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 if you've served more than 12 months in prison."

Tickets for the shows are still available on Ticketmaster.

After one fan tweeted the company to ask about refunds the website's customer service team replied: "Once we receive confirmed info an email will be sent to all customers for the event."