Ministers to miss quarter-final tie

Bridgwater Mercury: A young girl stands in front of a banner supporting imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev, Ukraine A young girl stands in front of a banner supporting imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev, Ukraine

The UK Government is to boycott England's Euro 2012 quarter-final on Sunday because of concerns over human rights in Ukraine, Downing Street said.

But Number 10 is holding open the prospect that senior political figures could be at the final if the team gets that far - despite it also being played in Kiev.

No ministers watched the team's group matches amid criticism of the treatment of Ukraine's jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, though the UK's ambassador in Kiev did attend.

But the Government has faced accusations of inconsistency after failing to pledge to sustain the policy of staying away if England do well in the competition.

Asked why ministers would not be in Kiev on Sunday to see England take on Italy, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "It reflects ministers' busy schedules ahead of the Olympics and widespread concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in the Ukraine."

If England win, there may be official attendance at the semi-final which is to be played in Poland.

But asked if the boycott would then apply to the final in Kiev, should they progress that far, she added: "Let's see how we get on on Sunday. No decision has been made."

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