Charity angry over planned appearance by Mike Tyson at Portsmouth Guildhall

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PORTSMOUTH’S Guildhall has come under fire for plans to host an evening with former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.

Rape Crisis – a charity which campaigns against sexual violence – has condemned the £150-a-seat talk show and said Tyson, who was jailed for rape, should not be branded a ‘legendary figure’.

Christina Diamandopoulos, who works with the charity providing rape victims with support, said: ‘Any offender convicted of sexual violence cannot be counted a legend or hero in any sense without diminishing the importance and seriousness of rape and sexual assault.

‘The message to survivors and to women being victimised, at present, is that “society does not think you are important and your suffering is not important”.

‘It may have the effect of silencing women or deterring them from coming forward. It is a sign that money speaks louder than humanity.’

Andy Foreman, who is organising the event for WCBC, said: ‘What has been done is in the past and it has been done a long time ago. Everyone moves on and he is a family man.’

Andy Grays, chairman of Portsmouth Cultural Trust, which is responsible for the Guildhall, said: ‘He has served his time.

‘These Mike Tyson events have happened for many years throughout the UK. If he does say or do anything offensive here he will never come here again.’

Tyson became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at the age of just 20 but in 1992 he was handed a six-year sentence for raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant.

He was released after serving three years.