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Canadian singer kicked out of U.K. under new rules

All artists required to get Certificate of Sponsorship

Last Updated: Monday, May 25, 2009 | 1:07 PM ET Comments110Recommend91

Allison Crowe, a singer based in Corner Brook, N.L., was barred from U.K. entry.Allison Crowe, a singer based in Corner Brook, N.L., was barred from U.K. entry. (Billie Woods)

B.C.-born musician Alison Crowe is back in Europe after getting kicked out of the United Kingdom last week.

Crowe was scheduled to perform with her band in Edinburgh, but fell afoul of new U.K. laws that require musicians to get special permits to play there.

When their plane landed in Gatwick airport, security officers locked them in a holding cell, Crowe told CBC News.

"Then they fingerprinted and photographed us and three hours later, roughly, trucked us over in a paddywagon to another building. And that's where we were kept for the remainder of the day, where we were interrogated and searched," she said.

Crowe said her passport was stamped "barred from entry" by U.K. officials.

The U.K. has introduced a Certificate of Sponsorship, required by anyone who works in the creative sector, from musicians to actors to technicians.

Each venue that employs an artist, classified as a "migrant" under the new requirements, is required to get such a certificate, a reference number that the artist must show when entering the country.

None of the U.K. venues Crowe planned to play was familiar with the new rules.

Activists oppose laws

A group of U.K. activists is opposing the new laws, saying the rules are intrusive and will result in damage to cultural and civic life.

All non-EU visitors must submit biometric data, electronic fingerprint scans and a digital photograph to apply for the certificate and their movements may be monitored.

A group of artists and scholars has begun an online petition against the rules, saying its cost to the applicant will be enough to keep smaller performers out of the U.K.

Crowe is not the only artist to be caught by the new rules — Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov cancelled a recent tour of Britain because of the requirement.

Crowe and her band were released after six hours, but required to return to Canada.

She is now continuing the tour in Germany, which has no special requirements for touring musicians.

Crowe, who lives in Corner Brook, N.L., toured Europe, including Britain, in 2005 and 2007.

Her most recent album is Little Light, released last year on her own indie record label.


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