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Pa Salieu says he has been removed from performing at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony after “failing a background check”.
The Coventry rapper was set to perform at the ceremony next week to close the Games, which are being held in neighbouring Birmingham. Alongside footage showing him rehearsing for the performance, a statement on social media saw the rapper reveal that he was “removed from the show” because he “failed a background check.”
The statement read: “Yesterday I received a call to say that I’m being removed from the show because I ‘failed a background check’. 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. 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. Most recently the date moved because the ‘prosecutor has gone on holiday’.”
The statement added: “I’ve consistently been trying to use my career to show people where I’m from that there is 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? 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?”
Last year, the rapper also revealed that he was banned from performing his headline Coventry show by “authorities,” which came after “being cut out of certain City of Culture activities”. At the time he added: “I feel like I’m being let down by the city I love. Why do they fear us?”
In 2018, Pa Salieu was charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of Fidel Glasgow, grandson of The Specials’ Neville Staple, outside Club M in Coventry. Along with nine others, the rapper was charged with violent disorder, while Pa Salieu was also charged with wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon. No one has been charged with Glasgow’s murder. At the time, he wrote on Twitter: “Due to ongoing investigations, I am unable to comment on the detail surrounding the fateful events that occurred back in September 2018. Sadly, my close friend Fidel Glasgow (AP) was taken from us well before his time. I am engaging with the justice system but wish to make it clear that I have not been charged with harming my friend AP in any way.”
Earlier this year, Pa was cleared of the second count of violent disorder, though admitted possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon.
In a statement shared with Rolling Stone UK, Pa’s management team discussed how the aftermath of the court case is causing “huge disrupt” to the rapper’s career due to being unable to obtain visas until after the case is concluded. “This has led to Pa having to pull out of his whole years worth of international commitments,” the statement said. Also letting down the 10 or so band and crew members that rely on him for their income.”
Of the Commonwealth Games incident, they added: “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?”
In a statement shared with Rolling Stone UK, a Birmingham 2022 spokesperson said: “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.” Representatives for Pa Salieu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pa Salieu’s management statement in full:
“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 four times already with the latest date now being set as the 2 December.
“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.”