Illegal worker at Scots porridge firm had fake ID relating to presidential candidate in Gambia

A man caught working illegally at a Scots porridge factory was using fake ID linked to a presidential candidate in Gambia who shared his name.

Ismaila Ceesay fled his Gambian homeland to Scotland to escape a wave of murders which claimed the lives of family members, a court heard.

Ceesay later secured a job at the Stoats factory making porridge bars in Midlothian.

The 44-year-old obtained a Swedish identity card with details relating to Dr Ismaila Ceesay who was running for president in Gambia.

He was caught after an anonymous letter was sent to his bosses with a web link to a story about a Dr Ceesay’s electoral run.

Ceesay was described as a “very good employee”, the court heard.

Ceesay appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday and admitted possessing a false ID card and working in the UK illegally.

Prosecuting attorney Jack Caster said Ceesay had been working for Stoats for around two years when an anonymous letter was sent to its senior staff alleging he was working illegally.

Mr Caster said the letter included a link to a story about an Ismaila Ceesay who previously lived in Edinburgh but returned to Gambia where he was running for the presidency.

The court heard Ceesay was called in by his employers to discuss the letter’s contents.

Mr Caster said: “During the conversation he admitted that the allegations were true.”

The prosecutor said the company contacted the Home Office whose officials searched Ceesay’s address and found a Gambian passport attributed to him confirming his nationality.

Arrested by police and taken to the city’s St Leonards station, officers asked Ceesay if he was Swedish.

He replied: “No, I am not Swedish.”

The Stoats factory in Loanhead.
The Stoats factory in Loanhead.

Defense agent Liam Kildare said his client came to Scotland alone a decade ago to escape conflict in Gambia.

Mr Kildare said: “Several of his family members had been murdered by government soldiers and he felt it necessary to flee.”

The solicitor said Ceesay stayed with friends and found it difficult to get enough money to eat or clothe himself.

Mr Kildare said: “He obtained, through a friend, a Swedish ID card relating to a person who shared the same name as him.

“This person held dual nationality for Gambia and Sweden.

“Mr Ceesay’s intention in possessing this ID card was to find work. The intention was to work illegally rather than for the purposes of impersonation to commit more serious offences.

“His intention was survival.”

The court was told Ceesay married a UK national in November 2020 and that conferred the right for him to remain in the UK and work here.

Mr Kildare acknowledged Ceesay didn’t have the right to work before then.

Ceesay will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court later this month.
Ceesay will be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court later this month.

He said Ceesay was a first offender who was currently “in between jobs”.

Ceesay admitted the two offenses which were carried out at the Stoats premises in Loanhead between August 1 2018 and November 18 2020, the day before his marriage.

Sheriff Nigel Ross deferred sentence on Ceesay, of the city’s Longstone area, until later this month for reports.

Last year it was reported that Dr Ismaila Ceesay, the Citizens’ Alliance presidential candidate in Gambia, had renounced his Swedish citizenship as he prepared his presidential run.

It was reported Dr Ceesay obtained Swedish citizenship in 2002 after studying there, and previously lived in Scotland where he studied at the University of Edinburgh.

Presidential elections held in Gambia last December were won by incumbent President Adama Barrow.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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