Business Rocks, a technology conference to be held in Manchester in 2017, dropped comedian Daniel O’Reilly, known as the character Dapper Laughs, from its lineup on Friday after Business Insider told the organisers that he had previously made rape jokes.
The conference had scheduled a panel featuring different Snapchat influencers, and O’Reilly was due to take part.
Dapper Laughs is a controversial social media character who used apps like Vine to build his fame before getting his own television show and album.
However, in 2014, The Daily Mirror reported that Dapper Laughs told a female audience member at one of his shows that she was “gagging for a rape”.
During a show at Scala in London, the comedian is reported to have said of his television show: “I filmed six episodes, half an hour each, if it was a guide to rape, it would have done one five-minute episode, come on and go ‘Oi Oi, I’m Dapper Laughs, go down the shops, get some rope, bit of duct tape, rape the bitch, well done, see you later.'”
More than 60,000 people signed a petition calling for UK broadcaster ITV to drop O’Reilly’s “Dapper Laughs: On The Pull” show following the incident. ITV said on November 10, 2014, it had given “careful thought to the recent criticism” of the character and took the decision not to commission the show for a second series.
O’Reilly then said in an interview with BBC Newsnight on November 12, 2014, that he was retiring the Dapper Laughs character, adding: “I did not realise I was causing that much of a problem.”
Business Insider noticed that O’Reilly had been booked to appear at the Business Rocks conference and pointed it out to the event organisers.
The conference was initially defensive, saying in a now-deleted tweet that Dapper Laughs was part of a lineup of “rebellious and disruptive speakers”.
Business Rocks organiser Jonny Cadden then told Business Insider that he had dropped Dapper Laughs from his event. Cadden then requested via email that tweets referencing the booking be deleted (Business Insider declined to do so).
Cadden sent the following statement on the decision to book Dapper Laughs:
“This speaker was not booked by myself and was coming to speak on being a Snapchat influencer. As soon as the point was raised that the person had spoken in such a way about women, he was immediately removed from our lineup. Business Rocks and its community is totally committed to promoting, empowering and championing women in tech. This behaviour is absolutely against everything we as a community stand for.”
O’Reilly’s management did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, O’Reilly did send Business Insider these tweets:
The decision to book and then unbook Dapper Laughs could cause other speakers and attendees to pull out of the Business Rocks event. Kirsty Styles, the head of talent and skills at Tech North, was shown on the Business Rocks website as appearing at the event. Tech North said that her involvement hadn’t yet been confirmed, and Richard Gregory, Director of Tech North, sent over the following statement:
“Tech North has been in talks to work with Business Rocks and we were unaware that Dapper Laughs would be speaking at the conference. No formal agreement has been made on a non-commercial partnership and upon the removal of this speaker, we will be happy to resume conversations with the team. We believe that Business Rocks can still deliver a great event for the Northern tech community.”