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Sports Correspondent Neil Bennett
"The decision to allow him to fight in Britain has divided opinion"
 real 28k

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

Julie Bindell of Justice for Women
"This man is a convicted rapist"
 real 28k

Barbara Roche, Home Office minister for immigration
"The Home Secretary had to look at the wider picture"
 real 28k

Boxing promoter, Frank Warren
"We put in a submission giving reasons why we felt Mike Tyson should be let in this country"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 January, 2000, 07:38 GMT
Tyson row prompts rule review

Tyson's case highlights problems with existing regulations

Home Secretary Jack Straw has ordered a wholesale review of policy on allowing convicted criminals into the UK, following the controversy over boxer Mike Tyson's bid to fight in Britain.

Mr Straw intervened on Thursday to allow Tyson to fight in the UK, despite rules which state anyone convicted abroad of an offence that would carry a sentence of a year or more in Britain should not be allowed in to the country.

Tyson has a 1992 conviction for raping a beauty queen in the US.

Francis Francis will get the chance to face Tyson
Mr Straw said that the cost to British businesses that had invested in the 30 January clash between Tyson and British heavyweight champion Julius Francis if it was cancelled created "exceptional circumstances" which allowed the regulations to be set aside.

But the decision has sparked strong criticism from politicians and women's rights campaigners who say Tyson is still a dangerous man.

Julie Bindell, of pressure group Justice for Women, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "This man is a convicted rapist, he is a danger to women."

She added: "I do think that Jack Straw's intervention gives a clear message to people, to women and children and the men to whom Tyson is a role model, that rape is not a serious crime and that this man should be held up as a hero and not condemned as a rapist."

Tyson's high profile meant that his conviction was known to the authorities before his planned entry.

But, with no obligation to declare a conviction on arrival in the UK, many ordinary people found guilty of serious offences abroad never face the prospect of a ban.

Mr Straw has ordered the review to see if the rules surrounding entry for convicted criminals need changing.

'Exceptional circumstances'

Immigration minister Barbara Roche said the home secretary had taken the decision to let Tyson in because of "exceptional circumstances" surrounding a "major sporting event".

She told the Today programme Mr Straw was faced with a choice.

"Did he [Mr Straw] allow an individual immigration officer, somebody who just happened to be on duty on that Sunday when Tyson came into Heathrow to make that decision, placing that individual immigration officer in a totally invidious position?" she said.

"Or did he intervene and take the decision himself?"

But the decision has drawn cross-party criticism.

Labour MP Glenda Jackson said: "It seems to me grossly unfair that somebody who is rich and, in my opinion, infamous, is allowed entry into the country."

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe added: "This whole debacle has been bungled and mismanaged from beginning to end by Jack Straw."

Julius Francis said he was pleased the matter had been resolved.

The fighter said: "I felt disgusted at the politics of the decision to not let Mike Tyson in because this is my chance to make a good living for myself, earn a little bit of money and put myself on the world stage of boxing."

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See also:
13 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Straw 'caved in' on Tyson
13 Jan 00 |  UK
UK allows Tyson entry
11 Jan 00 |  Sport
The life of Iron Mike
12 Jan 00 |  Sport
Tyson set for airport showdown
25 May 99 |  Sport
The ups and downs of Tyson's life
12 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson highlights game of chance
11 Jan 00 |  Sport
Tyson fight in doubt

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