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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 16:24 GMT
Hain slams Zimbabwe cricket tour
Photo of graffiti in Harare
Graffiti on the streets shows the feelings in Harare
Leader of the Commons Peter Hain said the England cricket team's tour of Zimbabwe was a "propaganda victory" for President Robert Mugabe.

As the first in a series of one-day internationals ended Mr Hain said the sport's governing body should have complied with the players' wishes.

"This tour should not have happened and the real villain of the piece is the International Cricket Board," he said.

Mr Hain said the government could have been sued if it had tried to intervene.

Referring to President Mugabe as a "murderous ruler", Mr Hain said: "I wish we could have stopped the tour, so does Tony Blair and so does Jack Straw."

He pushed for any possible opposition to Mugabe's regime and regretted England's cricketers had been "caught in the crossfire", applauding those who had refused to take part.


Although Mr Hain was at the forefront of a campaign to prevent the South African team from touring the UK in 1970, he described the current circumstances as different.

I wish we could have stopped the tour, so does Tony Blair and so does Jack Straw
Peter Hain

Over 20 years ago there was a more significant national and international movement against apartheid, with threats of civil disorder and boycotts of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, he said.

Today the British taxpayer would have been liable for compensation to cricket's international organisation for cancelling the arranged tour, said Mr Hain.

According to the Commons leader this was a precedent the British Government did not want to set.

England stutter to Zimbabwe win
28 Nov 04 |  Cricket
Profile: Peter Hain
24 Nov 04 |  Politics


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