Feminist writer Germaine Greer was under pressure to apologise after she suggested that British troops might take part in rapes if they are sent into Libya.

Greer was speaking during a BBC discussion about allegations that Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had ordered mass rapes as a weapon against rebels. She said: “Rape is always present where you have slaughter … One of the interesting things you might ask about is what happens if we send in ground troops: how will be sure they don’t do a bit of raping in their turn? All soldiers, in certain circumstances, will rape, regardless of whether they’re ours or theirs or whose.”

Patrick Mercer, Conservative MP and a former army officer, said: “For her to confuse the British forces with irregulars from other countries is not only ignorant and foolhardy from her point of view, it is also insulting.”