COLLEAGUES of a US academic, who was told she must leave Scotland after the Home Office refused her a visa, have sprung to her defence and urged a rethink.

Elizabeth Ford is well-respected in her specialist field – 18th century Scottish music – and has been involved in research at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as being offered a fellowship at Oxford University.

She has been in Scotland for eight years, but her application for leave to remain (LTR) here was rejected last week after the Home Office told her the authority she received last year had been granted “incorrectly”.

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In a letter to her MP Stewart McDonald, professors Björn Heile and John Butt, from Glasgow University, said they wanted to confirm the “veracity of her claims”.

They said: “It is not for us to comment on the legal or bureaucratic issues surrounding the case, although the Home Office’s record in this and similar cases is an obvious cause for concern.

“Rather, we wish to emphasise that Dr Ford is a world-class academic and excellent musician, whose work is of great benefit for the United Kingdom.

“Specifically, she is a leading specialist on the music of Scotland in the 18th century as both a scholar and performer, and she is making a unique contribution to the recovery and performance of this important aspect of Scottish heritage that was all but lost.

“Not only is her work of significant value for the academic community, but she also has a very strong role to play in influencing the work of two major Scottish groups associated with our unit – Dunedin Consort and Concerto Caledonia.”

They said her deep commitment to Scottish culture is demonstrated by her learning Gaelic.

“In short, if she had to leave the UK, this would constitute a considerable loss to the University of Glasgow, UK academia as a whole and Scottish music and culture more widely,” they said. “By contrast, it is not clear to us whose benefit could possibly be served by refusing her a visa.”

READ MORE: SNP hit out at ‘inept and cack-handed’ Home Office

Musica Scotica promotes and produces works on Scottish music, and eight members of its editorial and advisory board have also written in support of Ford.

“Dr Ford has been the recipient of several grants and awards since being awarded her PhD from the University of Glasgow, including the Daiches-Manning Memorial Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, and ... a fellowship at the University of Oxford,” they wrote.

“This is testament to the importance and vitality of her work in this significantly under-researched area ... We urge the relevant authorities to reconsider this case, and to allow our valued colleague to remain.”

Ford’s lawyer, Usman Aslam, from Glasgow legal group McGlashan Mackay, told The National: “We are pleased to be able to try to assist Elizabeth in finding a solution so she can remain in Scotland, where she clearly has an immense impact in her field, which is backed up by academics from the universities of Glasgow and Oxford.

He added: “We will firstly seek an administrative review and we hope to smooth matters out with the Home Office and, depending on the response, we will seek an alternative solution for Elizabeth.”