Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 13:09 UK

Far-right Dutch MP 'can enter UK'

Geert Wilders
Mr Wilders was sent back from the UK when he tried to defy the entry ban

The Home Office has said it will not stop controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering the UK on Friday.

The Freedom Party leader, who has been accused of Islamophobia, was turned away in February on the grounds that he posed a threat to public security.

But on Tuesday that ban was overturned by a tribunal.

The Home Office says it is considering whether to challenge the ruling, but in the meantime is "not minded" to seek permission to keep the ban in place.

A spokesman said a final decision on whether to appeal would be made after the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal's written judgement is handed down next week.

If an appeal is launched, the Home Office could seek permission from the Court of Appeal to have the ban re-imposed while it is considered.

Freedom of speech

Mr Wilders, who faces trial in his own country for inciting hatred, is due to visit the House of Lords on Friday on the invitation of UK Independence Party peer Lord Pearson.

He had tried to visit in February to show his controversial film Fitna, which links the Koran to terrorism.

It's not my intention to have anything at all to do with violence
Geert Wilders
Freedom Party

But he was turned back at Heathrow airport after immigration officials enforced a Home Office ban imposed on the grounds that his views could stir up "inter-faith violence".

However, on Tuesday the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled there was no evidence to suggest he represented a real and serious threat to the "fundamental interest" of society.

The judges said that even if there had been evidence, it would still have been wrong to turn him away because in the event of any trouble the police would have been able to deal with it.

"It was more important to allow free speech than to take restrictive action speculatively," they said.

Mr Wilders is due to give a press conference on Friday. He has said he does not plan to show his film during this visit, but intends to return again at a later date for a screening.

'Despise violence'

A Home Office spokesman said on Thursday: "Any European visitor's right to enter the UK will be considered on its merits by an immigration officer.

"On this occasion the home secretary is not minded to recommend that Wilders is denied admission to the UK.

"Clearly Mr Wilders' statements and behaviour during a visit will inevitably impact on any future decisions to admit him."

Earlier this week, Mr Wilders told BBC Radio 5 Live his intention had only ever been "to have a debate about freedom of speech and the threat of Islamisation of our Western societies".

"I believe the decision of the UK government was political, it was not based on law," he said.

"It's not my intention to have anything at all to do with violence. On the contrary, I despise violence - I just want a debate."



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SEE ALSO
UK's ban of Dutch MP criticised
13 Feb 09 |  UK Politics
Dutch MP refused entry to Britain
12 Feb 09 |  UK Politics
Islam film Dutch MP to be charged
21 Jan 09 |  Europe
Dutch Muslims condemn MP's film
24 Jan 08 |  Europe
Profile: Geert Wilders
15 Oct 09 |  Europe


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