Saturday 24 August 2019

Drugs revelation: I won't be denied entry to US over cocaine, says Michael Gove

Changing the agenda: Michael Gove is seeking to get his campaign back on course after cocaine revelations. Photo: REUTERS
Changing the agenda: Michael Gove is seeking to get his campaign back on course after cocaine revelations. Photo: REUTERS

Andrew Woodcock

Conservative leadership contender Michael Gove yesterday dismissed suggestions he could be prevented from visiting the US as prime minister because of his admission he has taken cocaine.

Any UK citizen applying to travel to the US has to fill in a visa application form known as ESTA, which includes the question: "Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?" Those replying yes can be barred from life from entering the country.

Mr Gove admitted to using cocaine several times at social occasions when he was a young man, but denied he had developed a habit.

He was asked on BBC1's 'Andrew Marr Show' whether he had admitted having taken Class A drugs in security vetting forms when he became a minister.

"No one asked," he said. "I don't believe that the question was ever raised. I don't ever remember being asked at that time. I don't believe I've ever on any occasion failed to tell the truth about this."

He dismissed the idea that he could face a ban on entry to the US, saying: "I think it is the case that if I were elected prime minister of this country, then of course it would be the case that I would be able to go to the United States. It's foolish to suggest otherwise."

Asked whether he accepted that he had committed a crime, the former justice secretary told Marr: "Yes, it was a crime, it was a mistake. I deeply regret it."

He said he was "fortunate" not to have gone to prison as a result of his drug use. "I do think it was a profound mistake and I've seen the damage that drugs do," he said. That's why I deeply regret the mistake that I made.

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