Tyson's England debut on hold

 

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was placed on a list of undesirable visitors who should not be allowed automatic entry to Britain so soon after his 1992 conviction for rape, the British home office confirmed yesterday.

UK officials said the US boxer's name was one of about half a million on the "suspects index", which gives immigration officers the right to refuse entry to Britain unless it is justified on compassionate grounds. Most on the list have been convicted of serious criminal offences. Around 20 people are refused entry on such grounds each year.

The appearance of Tyson's name on the index and immigration rules preventing his entry mean he is now likely to delay his arrival in Britain while the immigration service considers the compassionate grounds of his case.

Tyson is due to fight the British boxer Julius Francis in Manchester on January 29th and was expected to arrive in London on Sunday for his first bout outside America.

The future of the sell-out clash has been thrown into doubt because of rules which state that entry into the country should be refused to anyone who has committed a crime that would carry a 12-month jail term or more in Britain.

One option open to him is to apply for entry clearance before he leaves, which he must do at the British embassy in Washington. This process could take several weeks.

Julia Onslow-Cole, a British lawyer who specialises in such cases, said: "There are no strong compassionate grounds for Tyson's entry. A number of highprofile people have been refused entry to Britain on similar grounds and very few cases are won on compassionate grounds."