A SCOTTISH MP has hit out at what he called the Home Office’s “inept and cack-handed approach” to dealing with overseas citizens who want to make their homes here.

Stewart McDonald was speaking after he wrote to the new Home Secretary Priti Patel, urging her to reconsider the refusal of a visa for Dr Elizabeth Ford, an expert in 18th century Scottish music who has been in Scotland for eight years.

The US academic was last week given two weeks to leave – because the Home Office said it had made a mistake when it granted her leave to remain here over a year ago.

She came to Scotland in 2011 to study for a PhD in Scottish music at the University of Glasgow and went on to complete it in 2016.

Ford is well-known and respected in music, research and writing circles and has represented Scotland at national and international events, and several colleagues have praised her work and commitment.

Her application for leave to remain (LTR) here was rejected after the Home Office told her the authority she received last year had been granted “incorrectly”.

READ MORE: American academic given two weeks to leave UK by Home Office

McDonald, the SNP member for Glasgow South, told The National: “Once again the Home Office have demonstrated an inept and cack-handed approach to dealing with overseas citizens.

“My constituent, Dr Elizabeth Ford, has devoted her academic career to studying, developing and expanding knowledge of Scottish musical performance in the eighteenth century.

“Her academic contribution to the enrichment of Scottish cultural and musical study should not be underestimated.

“She makes no claim on the public purse, and she contributes greatly to the enrichment of Scottish society.

“I have written to the new Home Secretary to ask that she review Dr Ford’s situation and to exercise any discretion she may have in these matters.”

In his letter to the Home Secretary, McDonald said he hoped officials would recognise that their previous error had exacerbated the situation in Ford’s eyes.

“Dr Ford’s academic expertise is in an area of Scottish musical and cultural heritage pertaining to the 18th century and has been instrumental in increasing understanding of the Scottish tradition in this period and preserving the repertoire for future generations,” he wrote.

“The Home Office’s self-declared incorrect award in 2018 has compounded the distress caused, as Dr Ford now feels an arbitrary decision has been taken to expunge that error, and to remove her from the UK.

“As I have previously noted, Dr Ford has developed a body of academic work of great cultural and musical significance to understanding of Scottish musical development.”

He urged Patel to user her discretion or any other means to allow Ford to stay and continue with her “culturally significant academic research”.

One of Scotland’s foremost cultural ambassadors – Dr John Purser – an award-winning composer, playwright and author, has collaborated with Ford and is also backing her battle to remain in Scotland.

“As a historian of Scottish music, I have been working on a regular basis with Dr Ford, who has come here to Skye on several occasions for furtherance of our research work, and her part of this on-going work is seminal,” he said. “If she is obliged to leave the country it will be a major loss to Scottish musicology and will be of very real inconvenience to myself.

“Quite simply, researchers working at this level are extremely rare, and it requires regular face-to-face consultation and access to materials I personally hold – and she, in turn, accesses materials in Scotland which she shares with me.

“Much of this is unique manuscript material. With respect to eighteenth century musical studies she is irreplaceable.

“Here we have an outstanding scholar deeply committed to Scottish culture and she is being made to feel unwelcome when we should be welcoming her with open arms.”

Stuart McDonald, the opposition SNP spokesperson on Immigration, Asylum and Border Control, told The National: “How can a department seriously ask someone to give up their life here – never mind at two weeks’ notice – simply because of a mistake that same department made a year ago? Decisions of this nature defy common sense and common decency.”

A comment given by the Home Office late last night was identical to that given to us when we broke the story two days ago. While admitting their mistake, a spokesperson said: “All cases are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the immigration rules, and are based on evidence available. The Tier 5 Charity Worker visa to which the applicant applied is capped at 12 months.”