Political groups have clashed after a controversial academic was welcomed as a special guest at a meeting.

Sussex Friends of Israel hosted Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar at its meeting on Monday night at Ralli Hall in Denmark Villas, Hove.

Dr Kedar has previously claimed raping wives and mothers of Palestinian Hamas militants is the only thing that could deter further terrorist attacks.

Protests were held in Hove by pro-Palestinian group the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), who insisted the renowned Middle East scholar was not welcome in Sussex.

Speaking to an Israeli radio station in July this year, Dr Kedar allegedly said: “The only thing that could deter a suicide bomber is knowing that, if caught, his sister or his mother would be raped”.

Two London synagogues cancelled visits by Dr Kedar, who lectures at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Brighton and Hove PSC asked organisers of the venue in Hove to follow suit.

Winston Pickett, Sussex Friends of Israel executive, said opposition groups were basing their opinions on unfounded allegations.

He said: “Dr Kedar addressed what he was alleged to have said and everyone was happy with that. “We had 70 people turn up which was a huge success. Ralli Hall had to find us a new room due to the numbers.

“People left the meeting with a broader understanding of the Middle East, which is why we invited him to talk.”

Barry Stierer, secretary of Brighton and Hove PSC, said Dr Kedar’s presence in the UK was toxic.

He said: “We don’t see why a guy like this should be given a platform.

“We have been heartened that other major events due to see him speak cancelled at short notice. It’s a shame the local one went ahead.

Mr Stierer has written to Home Secretary Theresa May asking for Dr Kedar to be deported.

A Police spokesman said: “Officers were on duty in the area on Monday evening in case there were public order incidents.

“However the protest outside Ralli Hall went off peacefully and the officers were stood down.”