Coventry rapper Pa Salieu's Commonwealth Games show cancelled due to 'failed background check'

Pa Salieu Credit: PA Media

British rapper Pa Salieu has said his planned performance at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony has been cancelled due to a "failed background check".

The 24-year-old musician who lives in Coventry was acquitted in March of engaging in violent disorder during a mass brawl in which his friend Fidel Glasgow was stabbed to death.

However the singer was convicted of possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon and had previously admitted a second count of violent disorder relating to an attack on a man shortly after the brawl.

His final sentencing date was due to be in May.

Salieu said he has "consistently co-operated" with the legal process but that the Home Office is still to process the necessary paperwork to allow him to perform abroad.

Sharing video footage from rehearsals of his Games performance on Instagram, he wrote: "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% 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."

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.

"Most recently the date moved because the ‘prosecutor has gone on holiday."

Pa Salieu was acquitted in March of engaging in violent disorder during a mass brawl in which his friend Fidel Glasgow was stabbed to death Credit: Jacob King/PA

The rapper 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?"

Salieu’s management said in a 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 disruption 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 2nd December.”

His management said this had forced the rapper to cancel a year of international commitments.

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?”

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 institutes.

Salieu was born in Slough, Berkshire, but moved to The Gambia in west Africa as an infant. He returned to the UK at the age of eight and lived in Hillfields, a suburb of Coventry, which inspired his 2020 song Frontline.

A Birmingham 2022 Spokesperson has 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."