Immigration has been in the spotlight once against this week following the ‘migrant crises’ unfolding in Calais (as covered in our previous blog entry) and in the last few days an interesting news story has emerged concerning Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. For those who are not familiar with the story Ai Wei Wei’s application for a 6 month business visa was refused and he was only issued a 20 day visa for failing to declare a previous ‘criminal conviction’. However, Ai Weiwei has never been charged or convicted of a crime in China although he was detained for 81 days in 2011. In today’s blog post we will examine other high profile cases of celebrities who have had difficulties in entering the United Kingdom.
Snoop Dogg. In 2006 the then Home Office Minister John Reid banned the Los Angeles rapper from entering the United Kingdom after his involvement in a brawl in Heathrow airport which saw several police officers injured. However, after a review of surveillance footage it was found that Snoop Dogg was not directly involved in said brawl and has subsequently since been allowed entry into the United Kingdom. Snoop, who has a previous criminal record, had previously been refused entry into the United Kingdom and in 2007 was banned from hosting the Australian MTV awards after failing to pass a character test. (source)
In 2010 U.S singer Chris Brown had to postpone his U.K after he was refused entry to the United Kingdom on the grounds of being guilty of a serious crime. Brown was found guilty of assaulting his then girlfriend the Barbadian singer Rhianna. The Home Office said in a statement “We reserve the right to refuse entry to the U.K. to anyone guilty of a serious criminal offense. Public safety is one of our primary concerns. Each application to enter the U.K. is considered on its individual merits.” (source)
2008 saw the rapper Busta Rhymes, who has previously been charged in the U.S with assault and the possession of weapons, temporarily detained for “unresolved convictions”. However, the incident was resolved and Busta was able to enter the country on his temporary visa and perform at the Rockcorps concert at the Royal Albert Hall. (source)
Finally, in 2008, despite not being a rapper or singer, Martha Stewart was refused entry to the U.K due to her 2004 conviction of obstructing justice. Martha Stewart had planned to visit the Royakl Academy of Arts as well as participate in other arrangements. (source)
Whilst our list is by no means extensive all 4 have previous criminal records that have directly influenced the decision of the Home Ofifce. What is interesting about the case of Al Weiwei is that he was detained and charged due for tax evasion in 2011 yet maintains that this was politically motivated . Certain critics of the Home Office’s decision believe that the U.K government feel under pressure to limit his stay in the U.K due to the impending visit of the Chinese PM in October.
Whilst publishing this blog Ai Weiwei has since been granted a full 6 month visa.
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