Rapper Pa Salieu 'dropped from Games closing ceremony'

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Pa SalieuImage source, Rosie Matheson
Image caption,
Rapper Pa Salieu was named the BBC's Sound of 2021

Rapper Pa Salieu says he has been removed from the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony after failing a background check.

The artist was convicted in March of possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon during a brawl which saw his friend stabbed to death.

He also admitted violent disorder and is awaiting sentence.

Games' organisers would not comment on individual cases but said everyone went through the same accreditation process.

The artist, winner of BBC Music's Sound of 2021, said in an Instagram post he was given the news on Monday while rehearsing for the show.

"Next week's performance should have been a celebration," said the rapper, from Coventry.

He said he had "fully cooperated" with the legal process adding: "I've consistently been trying to use my career to show people where I'm from there is another life for us.

"But what can you do if the police, justice system and 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 24-year-old artist from the Hillfields area of the city was accused of joining a group that chased and cornered a man during violence outside a Coventry bar in 2018.

It followed a fight in which Fidel Glasgow - a close friend of Salieu and grandson of Specials singer Neville Staple - was fatally stabbed.

Another man, 25-year-old Michael Mistouflet, was convicted of a separate violent disorder charge after a trial at Warwick Crown Court, but Salieu and two others, Meidel Dange and Adil Naseer, both 25, were cleared of that offence.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Pa Salieu's friend, Fidel Glasgow, 21, died in Coventry city centre in 2018

A statement from the 24-year-old musician's management said "no human common sense" had been involved in the decision to cut his performance from the Birmingham 2022 event with less than a week to go.

"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 disruption to his career," it said.

"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."

The statement also stressed that Salieu is "very outspoken about his former life" and has "consistently tried to use his career as an inspiration for others from similar underprivileged backgrounds" while also taking part in social initiatives including supporting youth centres and speaking at young offenders' institutions.

Birmingham 2022 organisers 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."

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