Labour concerned by Nigella Lawson visa

Labour Party immigration spokesman Rajen Prasad says he would be concerned if British television cook Nigella Lawson was given an exemption to come to New Zealand solely because of her celebrity status, while other people in more need were being rejected.

Immigration New Zealand has given Lawson permission to visit next month even though the United States refused to let her travel there this year because she had admitted during the fraud trial of two former staff that she had taken cocaine.

Although she had no convictions, Lawson was ineligible for a New Zealand visa because the United States had refused her entry, so a discretionary "special direction" was required for her to enter New Zealand next month to film another advertisement for Whittaker's chocolate.

Dr Prasad said that as a general rule he did not believe people who abused drugs should be given entry, but there should be discretion to allow it in special circumstances and he assumed Immigration New Zealand gave Lawson's case careful consideration.

"I hope it's not simply been given because Nigella is a celebrity, and she was subject to the same rules as others are. But if special circumstances are present, I accept that."

However, he said, he was concerned about consistency.

Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye said ministers were not involved in the decision on Nigella Lawson.

It was made by officials because it involved only a temporary visa.

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