An Oxford University professor accused of rape has been taken into custody by French police, it has been reported.

Tariq Ramadan, professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, has been accused of rape by two women in France.

The scholar has also been accused of sexual misconduct by four Swiss women.

Mr Ramadan was taken into custody on Wednesday - a judicial source confirmed to Reuters.

The 55-year-old denies wrongdoing and is suing one of his accusers, Henda Ayari, a former radical Islamist who now heads a secular feminist group.

The senior research fellow at St Antony’s College took a leave of absence in November after the two women filed complaints.

At the time he said the leave was taken upon a mutual agreement with Oxford University and that he would use it devote his energies to his defence.

Born in Switzerland in 1962, the grandson of Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Prof Ramadan studied philosophy, literature and social sciences at the University of Geneva and Arabic and Islamic studies for his PhD.

He is a scholarly European Muslim, whose books, grounded in Islam’s textual sources, show him to be a skilled interpreter of Islamic history.

A controversial figure, Prof Ramadan was previously ejected from the United States as an extremist, judged to have provided material support to terrorist organisations.

He has received global praise for his academic work, including being ranked as one of the 100 most important innovators of the 21st century by Time magazine.