Tyson’s fame swayed visa decision
Wed, 03 Oct 2012 2:42p.m.
By Dan Satherley and Angela Beswick
Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson admits former boxer Mike Tyson’s fame influenced her decision to grant him a visa.
Labour has today hit out at the Government's perceived tendency to do favours for the rich and famous, saying visas would be denied outright to ordinary people who had been imprisoned for rape.
Tyson, who has prior convictions for rape and assault, was due to headline a motivational speaking night in Auckland in November.
Life Education Trust NZ, which provides educational resources for over 200,000 children a year, says it was approached in August by the event's promoters.
Chief executive John O'Connell says they were offered the chance to be the beneficiary of a charity auction associated with the event.
"The promoter came to us, the board discussed it, we made a decision to decline it, and I advised the promoter of that, that same day" Mr O'Connell told 3 News.
Yesterday the Life Education Trust discovered a letter of support had been sent to Immigration on behalf of the organisation by a “volunteer trustee”. A spokesperson for Ms Wilkinson said the letter – which claimed Tyson would help Life Education raise $60,000 – had in fact come from a board member, which is what swayed the minister’s decision to grant a ‘special direction’, meaning his convictions would not hinder his ability to enter the country.
“Fame by itself doesn’t really feature too much in my decision making, but obviously his fame contributed to being able to raise $60,000 for a good charity,” says Ms Wilkinson.
Tyson’s visa was revoked this morning.
Prime Minister John Key has this afternoon said he thinks it is the right decision to revoke Tyson’s visa, but denies putting pressure on Ms Wilkinson to do so.
Under New Zealand law, a person with a prior conviction with a sentence of five or more years in prison cannot be granted a visa without a special direction from the Minister of Immigration or Associate Minister.
Mr O'Connell said there is no way Life Education Trust would back the notorious former heavyweight champion, who was once disqualified for biting an opponent's ear.
"What I have at the moment is someone saying, 'You did,' and I'm going, 'Well, no, we didn't.' I think I know what I did and didn't do... Like anything, you always see if your brand fits, and that's not something we wanted our organisation involved with."
Mr O'Connell says Immigration sent him an email apologising for the mistake yesterday afternoon.
"This is a matter which the Life Education Trust takes very seriously and we have worked with Immigration officials to have the letter of support withdrawn," says Mr O'Connell.
"We are now undertaking our own internal process to address what has transpired."
Yesterday Mr Key said allowing Tyson into New Zealand was a "line-ball call".
Tyson responded by saying: "Fortunately, I am coming to New Zealand and there's nothing they can do about it and I'm so sorry, I'm sorry they feel disappointed and I'm just living my life."
Tyson has a Maori-inspired tattoo on his face, but has never been to New Zealand before. Tickets for his show cost up to $395.
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5/10/2012 6:38:22 a.m.
The Law system is all up to crabs' once you done your time means that you were punished for the mistakes and learn by those mistakes and once you are released as a free man with a name surpression followered by the seven years rules and regulation of good behavior in the community to qualify a free man with all paperwork and criminal records should be demolished, but instead you pay for your time and still consider as a criminal..
Dyson records reads back to 20 years ago now married with childrens and leading a normal life with no other criminal act since then..
My aoplogy Dyson we never knew of your criminal record until now..
I think this Govenment are running scared over Dotcom and Copyrights act..
Goodluck with your visa old Pal' and if not' take it up with your own Government Crminal Law to clear your name from what that happened 20 years ago..
4/10/2012 7:07:22 a.m.
But the member signed off as an individual, so it wasn't the charity approved his visit, hence the change.Since the visit didn't have the charities backing, it should never have been signed off as by a board member of the charity.
3/10/2012 5:39:52 p.m.
“volunteer trustee”? it was a Board Member.
3/10/2012 5:01:26 p.m.
There was a problem with the application and it was revoked due to that problem.Tyson was a convicted rapist. due to the length of time ago and the short visit it was viewed on a case by case basis as being 'line ball' and to approve it. Then they found the application had errors which pushed it over the line.
3/10/2012 3:25:22 p.m.
I doubt if Tyson will be a threat to the public of New Zealand. After all this is what these laws are about arnt they protedting the public from threats not giving politicians something to grandstand about.
I reckon all imergration matters should be taken on a case by case basis.
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