Pa Salieu claims to have been ‘removed’ from Commonwealth Games closing ceremony for ‘failing background check’

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Rapper Pa Salieu (BBC/Press image)
Rapper Pa Salieu (BBC/Press image)

British rapper Pa Salieu has claimed to have been removed from the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, after being told he “failed a background check”.

Taking to social media on Tuesday 2 August, the rapper told his fans that he would no longer be performing at the event in Birmingham later this month after receiving a call telling him he was being taken off the show.

In a statement, Salieu – who moved to nearby Coventry when he was 8 – alleged that the move was linked to a previous court appearance, writing: “I can’t keep being silent about this stuff!! I’ve already had to cancel 90 per cent of my shows this year because the Home Office won’t process the paperwork I need to travel abroad until my court case is finished.”

At Warwick Crown Court earlier this year, Salieu was cleared of engaging in violent disorder during a 2018 brawl in which his friend Fidel Glasgow – the grandson of The Specials singer Neville Staple – was stabbed to death. He was, however, convicted of possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon.

He continued: “I have fully co-operated with the process. Attended court on time every single day. The trial ended in March, but they keep just moving the final sentencing date which was due to be in May.”

Salieu, winner of the BBC’s Sound of 2021 award, continued by saying: “I’ve consistently been trying to use my career to show people where I’m from that there’s another life for us. One away from the roads. But what can you do if the police, the justice system, and the Home Office don’t care about you and put everything possible in your way to stop you trying to get on with your life.”

The Independent reached out to the Commonwealth Games for comment and received this statement from a Birmingham 2022 spokesperson: “Everyone involved in the Games goes through the same accreditation process; including our volunteers, performers, athletes, contractors, and workforce. We cannot comment on individual accreditation applications. This process facilitates the delivery of the Games.”

Salieu finished his statement by writing: “Next week’s performance should have been a celebration. “What is the real reason here?? How can you fail a ‘background check’ to perform at a closing ceremony. What does that even mean?”

Pa Salieu’s rep shared the following statement:

“Although born in the UK, Gambian Pa Salieu (who has Indefinite Leave to Remain) does not have the documentation needed to apply for a Visa to travel in most parts of the world and the Home Office will not issue this until his court case is concluded, already causing huge disrupt to his career.

“His trial for the incident in 2018 ended in March and he was originally due to be sentenced a month later, however the courts keep moving the date often with less than 24 hours notice. This date has changed 4 times already with the latest date now being set as the 2nd December.

 (Pa Salieu statement/Twitter)
(Pa Salieu statement/Twitter)
 (Pa Salieu statement/Twitter)
(Pa Salieu statement/Twitter)

“This has led to Pa having to pull out of his whole years worth of international commitments. Also letting down the 10 or so band and crew members that rely on him for their income.

“The frustration with the Commonwealth Games comes from the fact that no human common sense has been used here. What does a home office issue have to do with his ability to perform in a celebration? Is he the only performed convicted of a criminal offence? but this is purely the tip of the iceberg.

“This all relates to an incident that happened in 2018 a year before Pa had released his first single with Warner Records. The most serious charges were either dropped or he was found not guilty for. He’s not offended since this date in 2018.

“Pa has always been very outspoken about his former life and has consistently tried to use his career as an inspiration for others from similar underprivileged backgrounds; including being involved with youth workshops, giving talks at young offenders institutes, assisting aspiring artists with studio time, helping provide equipment for his former youth club and involving his local community in his campaign with Nike.

“This is his job and this situation is currently leaving him unable to work. Having to put your whole life and career on hold while you’re awaiting a sentencing date which is being unreasonably prolonged is unacceptable, especially given that this is a system which is supposed to encourage reformation. You’d struggle to find a better example of a figure as outspoken and supportive of showing the less fortunate youth of the UK that there are alternative avenues in life to those they may be familiar with.”

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