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Saturday, 15 January, 2000, 01:19 GMT
Dobson attacks Tyson decision

Tyson: "Exceptional" circumstances allowed him in

Labour's London mayoral hopeful Frank Dobson has said Home Secretary Jack Straw "got it wrong" by deciding to let boxer Mike Tyson into the UK.

"I am sorry to say that it seems my good friend Jack Straw got it wrong and I think Mike Tyson should have been kept out of the country," he told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions on Friday evening.

Mayoral running mates Frank Dobson and Trevor Phillips have both criticised the decision
"It must have been a great dilemma but it is the case that other famous felons have been kept out of the country."

Mr Straw has decided to allow Tyson, found guilty of rape in 1992, into the UK to fight British heavyweight champion Julius Francis in Manchester on 29 January.

This is despite immigration rules which state that 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, unless on "compassionate" grounds.

Mr Straw said the investment made in the match by British businesses created "exceptional circumstances" which allowed the regulations to be set aside.

Jack Straw: Controversial decision
But the decision has sparked strong criticism from politicians and women's rights campaigners, who say Tyson - due to arrive in Britain on Sunday - is still a dangerous man.

Mr Straw has already been accused of "caving in" by Trevor Phillips, Mr Dobon's running mate in the campaign to be Labour's nominee for London mayor.

"They have made the wrong decision...they have caved in to pressure. As far as I am concerned they shouldn't have done this," he said.

And Mr Dobson's rival 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.

"I can't see what is the particular compassionate aspect of a boxing match."

Murdoch speculation

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe has also strongly criticised Mr Straw, saying the "whole debacle has been bungled and mismanaged from beginning to end."

The government was also facing questions about whether the decision was connected to Prime Minister Tony Blair's links with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Murdoch owns the BSkyB company which holds TV rights to the fight.

Liberal Democrat broadcasting spokesman Norman Baker said: "There are already serious concerns that Tony Blair is in Rupert Murdoch's pocket."

The prime minister's official spokesman said he was not aware of BSkyB having made any direct representations to the government about the issue.

The row has also prompted criticism of haphazard immigration rules.

Mr Straw has ordered a review to clear up inconsistencies over whether to allow people with convictions into the UK.
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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Clutching at straws
14 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson row prompts rule review
13 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Straw 'caved in' on Tyson
12 Jan 00 |  UK
Tyson highlights game of chance
13 Jan 00 |  UK
UK allows Tyson entry

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