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The BBC's Emma Simpson
"Jack Straw's decision has caused a storm of protest"
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Claire Ward, MP
"I'm disappointed but not surprised"
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Jimmy Wray, MP
"He behaved himself the last time he visited the UK"
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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Tyson cleared for UK fight
Mike Tyson graphic
The fight will be at Parkhead or Hampden
Mike Tyson is to be allowed to return to the UK for a boxing match, despite an outcry from politicians and pressure groups.

Home Secretary Jack Straw has decided to grant the visa application from Tyson, a convicted rapist.

Five months ago, Mr Straw allowed Tyson into the UK to fight Julius Francis in Manchester, but said there were "exceptional circumstances".

The controversial ex-world champion is set to fight fellow American Lou Savarese in Glasgow on 24 June.


Jack Straw
Jack Straw: Granted permission
The likely venue is Scotland's national stadium, Hampden Park, although Celtic FC's Parkhead ground is another possible location.

Mr Straw said he had taken into account the fact that Tyson's behaviour in the UK was "satisfactory".

Any risk to the public posed by his rape conviction would be "minimised by the circumstances of his proposed visit", part of which would be the high-profile media presence.

Mr Straw also said that a refusal to permit entry would result in a loss of economic benefit to the UK.

Tyson's promoter, Frank Warren, said Mr Straw had made a "sensible" decision and that he would now be moving quickly to finalise the fight location and put tickets on sale.

And he told MSPs: "I'm sure there are more important issues in the world than whether or not Mike Tyson fights in Scotland."

Political opposition

A cross-party group of members of the Scottish Parliament held a news conference to oppose the fight.

They included: Gil Paterson, of the Scottish National Party; Nora Radcliffe, Liberal Democrat; Hugh Henry, Labour; Jamie McGrigor, Conservative and Tommy Sheridan, Scottish Socialist Party.



We can't take political decisions, we have to look at the application as it is

Christine Devine, Glasgow licensing authority
Gil Paterson, who chaired the conference, said: "It is utterly unacceptable that our national stadium - financed from the public purse - should be made available to make a rich convicted rapist even richer."

There was a storm of protest when the former world champion was allowed into the UK to fight Julius Francis in Manchester in February.

But many more people welcomed him and in inner city areas like Brixton, where he went on a walkabout, he was hailed as a hero.

UK law states that no-one who has served a jail sentence of more than a year may enter the country.

But, on that occasion, Mr Straw let him in at the last minute, citing "exceptional circumstances".

Council's role

Before the announcement, Scotland's Justice Minister Jim Wallace telephoned Immigration Minister Barbara Roche to convey the strength of feeling within the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs have no powers in the matter but Glasgow councillors have a key part to play because they would have to issue two licences for the fight.


Glasgow City Council plaque
Glasgow councillors have a vital role
Christine Devine, chairwoman of the city council's licensing authority, said: "I don't think we can take any moral objection.

"I think we've just got to look at the application on its merit, bearing in mind it won't be Mike Tyson that will make the applcation.

"If an application is lodged, we can't take political decisions, we have to look at the application as it is."

Scottish National Party Leader Alex Salmond said the Scottish Parliament and not the Home Office in London, should have the power to decide the matter.

He said: "It wouldn't happen to someone if they weren't famous like Mike Tyson.

"But the real issue is that it should be Scotland and the Scottish Parliament which decides on who is allowed into our country and who is not."

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18 May 00 | Scotland
Fury at Tyson approval
18 May 00 | Scotland
Full text of Straw's decision
30 Jan 00 | Sport
Tyson in the ring
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