There come moments in the life of any government when a single remark by a senior minister can lead one to wonder whether the whole adminstration has run off the rails.

In the case of Mike Tyson there are no doubt legal pros and cons to be argued over whether, as a convicted rapist, he should be admitted to Britain for a second time in a year for a boxing match.

But for many people what will stick in their minds is not the legal content of Jack Straw's justification for permitting Tyson's entry but his acknowledgement that “the possible economic loss to the UK” had been a factor in influencing his decision.

When Tyson last came to Britain the Home Secretary gave his permission at a late hour because, he said, so many economic commitments in connection with the fight had been made by businesses and individuals in the Manchester area.

Now, with plenty of time at his disposal, Mr Straw makes the same decision on the same grounds and in doing so demonstrates that this government apparently cannot separate principle from profit.

Since this matter is being looked at only from an economic perspective can we at least know that the cost of police protection and the other security safeguards so extensively deployed in London and Manchester last time will on this occasion be borne by the boxer and his extensive entourage?

Ray Fleming

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