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Immigration Minister salutes UK ban for ex-boxing champ Mike Tyson

Former boxer Mike Tyson. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images Former boxer Mike Tyson. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
12:35 PM

The Government makes “no apology” for the new immigration rules which prevented former boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson from entering the UK, Immigration Minister Mark Harper said.

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Mr Harper said the fact that the former world heavyweight boxing champion had been refused entry was “welcome” news and proof that the Home Office was getting to grips with immigration, as well as evidence that the law treated everyone equally.

“The rules don’t change just because the offender is famous,” said Mr Harper. “People have to obey the law, this Government makes no apology for toughening up the rules in 2012, and they will apply to people evenly, whether they are famous or not.”

Commenting on media reports of Tyson’s ban from entering the UK, ahead of a book tour in London, Mr Harper said: “I think it’s the first time I have effectively got in the ring with a boxer.”

He said Tyson had been denied entry “because we have changed the immigration rules”.

He added: “For those guilty of serious offences - and of course Mr Tyson is a convicted rapist - if people have been convicted of an offence, for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of at least four years, then we will refuse them entry to the United Kingdom.”

Mr Harper noted that his publishers were caught “unaware” by the changes to the immigration rules introduced in December 2012.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on immigration, he said “So saying it in Parliament, making it very clear, we have toughened the immigration rules; people who are criminals, who want to come to the United Kingdom, will find if they have been guilty of serious crimes, they won’t be able to come here.

“And I think that’s very welcome and that particular measure has been welcomed by many who support those who are victims of violence.”

During the wide-reaching debate, Mr Harper also took another aim at Domino’s Pizza chief executive Lance Batchelor, who complained he was struggling to recruit enough low-skill workers from the entire EU pool of migrants.

Mr Harper said: “The chief executive of Domino’s Pizza wasn’t actually arguing that he couldn’t just recruit in the UK, he was arguing that he couldn’t recruit enough people in the whole EU labour pool and we needed to start importing low-skilled workers from outside the EU in order that he could keep low wages in his business.

“And that’s why I said he perhaps ought to just reflect on the terms and conditions.

“He was arguing we should just have an unrestricted free-for-all, and I don’t think that’s the role of Government policy, to let multinationals keep wages low when, frankly, they should pay their staff a little more.”

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