Changes to the UK visa rules, made in December 2012, mean that Mike Tyson has not been allowed into the country to complete the planned promotional tour for his autobiography, 'Undisputed Truth'.
Tyson has been refused access because the alterations to the UK immigration laws mean that criminals who have been sentenced to four years or more in prison are barred from the country. The former heavyweight boxing champion was convicted of rape in 1992 and given a six-year jail sentence, of which he served three years.
Mark Harper, UK immigration minister, has welcomed the implementation of the law, stating that UK visa laws apply to people “whether they are famous or not”. Speaking at a Westminster Hall debate on immigration, he added: “For those guilty of serious offences, and of course Tyson is a convicted rapist, if people are being convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to imprisonment of at least four years, then we will refuse entry to the United Kingdom."
The minister added: “This is very important, people have to obey the law, this government makes no apology for toughening up in 2012 and they will apply to people evenly whether they are famous or not.”
Mr Harper noted that in this case the blame for the fact that the issue only came to light at the last minute lies with the book's publishers who did not make themselves or Tyson aware of the change in immigration law for criminals.
A spokesman for HarperCollins, the publishers of Tyson's book, confirmed in a statement: “There was a change in the UK immigration law in December 2012 of which we were unaware.”