Foreign Office refuses visa October 8, 2007

Chingoka barred from entering UK

Cricinfo staff

Peter Chingoka: will now give evidence by video link © AFP
Peter Chingoka, chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, has been refused a visa to enter the UK by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Chingoka was due to arrive in London to give testimony at the Darrell Hair hearing - he was a member of the three-man sub-committee that recommended to the ICC board in 2006 that Hair be demoted as an international umpire - but his application was rejected late last Friday. He will now address the tribunal by video link from Harare.

The refusal is a blow to Chingoka, mainly because his family are understood to have set up home in London. It will also cast doubts on his claims that he and his board are apolitical.

In June, the British embassy in Harare recommended that Chingoka be refused a visa to attend the annual ICC get together in London as he was alleged to have close links with Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party. This block was endorsed by the FCO. However, Richard Caborn, at the time the sports minister, overruled the ban as he felt such a move might have jeopardised the appointment of ECB chief David Morgan as ICC president-elect.

Morgan is now confirmed in that role, and there has also been an apparent hardening of the British government's attitude to Zimbabwe since Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair.

The decision also makes it unlikely that the ICC will be able to hold any more executive meetings in London as it is inconceivable that they would carry on if one of the most senior board members was not allowed to enter the country.