Tyson kept waiting over British return

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The Independent Online

The Prime Minister refused to shed any light on whether controversial boxer Mike Tyson would be allowed to grace Glasgow next month.

Mr Blair said a decision on whether to allow the former world champion, and convicted rapist into Britain for a fight would be taken in the next few weeks.

But he sidestepped demands from a Labour campaigner to exclude him from entering Britain on the grounds of his criminal record.

Tyson's planned visit has been opposed by women's rights campaigners because of his US rape conviction.

Immigration laws bar foreign nationals with serious convictions from entering the UK but Tyson was controversially allowed to come to Britain for a fight last year following the last-minute intervention of Home Secretary Jack Straw.

Mr Straw said that excluding him would cause serious problems for small businesses involved in setting up the bout.

Labour's Jenny Jones (Wolverhampton SW) said she often had to explain to her constituents with relatives from abroad why their family members were refused permission to visit in order to attend weddings and funerals in Britain.

She demanded: "Do you agree with me that my task would be made more difficult if Mike Tyson, who has been convicted of a serious criminal offence, is allowed into this country for purely commercial gain?"

Mr Blair told her: "I am tempted to say that this is a decision for Home Secretary Jack Straw and I am glad about that.

"I am afraid I agree with the previous decision of the Home Secretary. He will obviously have to make his decision over the next few weeks and I am sure he will do so."