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Ed Church of the Immigration Service Union
"It's putting one of my members in an intolerable situation"
 real 28k

Boxer Mike Tyson
"I'm hated worldwide"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 22:34 GMT
UK allows Tyson entry

Tyson's fight had looked out for the count


US heavyweight Mike Tyson will be allowed to enter the UK despite his rape conviction, the Home Office has said.

Home Secretary Jack Straw made the decision because of the "exceptional circumstances" of the case and the huge sums at stake.

The move comes after fears of a high-profile stand-off with the duty immigration officer at Heathrow airport when Tyson arrives in London on Sunday for a fight.

The government stepped in after criticism by immigration officials that it had failed to take a leading role and use its discretion to end the confusion.

Francis Francis: Will get the chance to face Tyson
Mr Straw said: "It would be invidious for an individual immigration officer to weigh the competing considerations involved.

"I have looked very carefully at the representations that have been submitted today to the Immigration Service by Mr Frank Warren and I consider that there are exceptional circumstances that justify my decision."

Mr Warren, the fight's promoter, had handed over a 67-page dossier arguing for Tyson to be allowed to enter the UK.

Mr Straw said the cancellation of Tyson's bout with Julius Francis in Manchester on 29 January could have a potentially devastating effect on businesses providing services for the fight.

'Disappointment'

He added: "I have also taken account of the effect on business in the Manchester area and of the inconvenience and disappointment of the many thousand members of the public who have purchased tickets for the fight."

Mr Straw said he was not satisfied that the rules on people with criminal convictions entering the UK had been applied consistently in the past, and they would now be reviewed.

At present under British law, anyone who has committed a crime abroad that would carry a 12-month sentence in the UK cannot enter the country unless there are "compassionate reasons".

Tyson was convicted of rape in the United States in 1992 and sentenced to six years in jail.

The decision ends days of confusion over who could make the decision on Tyson's entry.

'Hated worldwide'

On Tuesday, Downing Street said the decision was solely for the immigration service - a position reinforced by Mr Straw on Thursday.

But hours later, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman said a decision would after all be made at the Home Office before the boxer's arrival.

Tyson had described the prospect of him being barred from the UK as "preposterous", adding: "I'm hated worldwide, not by the common people but by the authoritarians."

The news was welcomed by Mr Warren, who said the saga had been "unnecessary and embarrassing".

Julius Francis' manager, Frank Maloney, said the confusion could have been avoided "if politicians had not tried to score brownie points".

Tyson will be allowed to stay in the UK until 30 January.

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Mike Tyson
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See also:
13 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Straw 'caved in' on Tyson
13 Jan 00 |  Sport
Relieved Warren accuses politicians
11 Jan 00 |  Sport
The life of Iron Mike
12 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson highlights game of chance
25 May 99 |  Sport
The ups and downs of Tyson's life

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