UK seeks to evict US musicologist

UK seeks to evict US musicologist


norman lebrecht

September 17, 2019

An American scholar who has spent eight years researching Scottish musical life at Glasgow University was given 14 days to leave the country in July after the Home Office refused to renew her visa.

Elizabeth Ford’s doctoral thesis on the flute in eighteenth-century Scotland won a National Flute Association award in 2017. Dr Ford, 38, is now working on the idea of Scottishness in flute playing.

Her edition of William McGibbon’s complete sonatas has been published by A-R Editions.




  • Pianofortissimo says:


  • FS60103 says:

    Hard to know what to think about this without knowing the grounds upon which the visa was declined.

    • Tom Moore says:

      really? what possible grounds could there be?

      • sam says:

        could be to protect jobs for Brits.

        for every disappointed foreigner could be an overjoyed Brit.

        now a native Scot flute expert could emerge.

        what is wrong with Britain First?

      • Petros Linardos says:


      • Elizabeth Cary Ford says:

        Hey about asking me yourself next time you answer a question about you know diddly squat?

      • Z says:

        Some of the possibilities: (1) She has reached limits of her visa (2) She simply does not meet the requirement of her visa (3) She is involved in illegal activities that would force her to leave immediately.

        For (1), I am not familiar with visa laws in UK, but in the US, for certain types of visa you can only renew it for X times with a maximum total length of Y years. After that, unless you get a green card or get a visa of a different type, you have to get out. I can imagine that the UK has similar rules. As far as I can tell, this researcher is a “fellow” so she is not a professor as of this time. She may have reached the limits of her visa.

        (2) The Guardian article points out that “The research fellowships she has won since do not come with a fixed employment contract, so a charity sponsored her last visa applications.” which does not sound very good to me, and can feel very suspicious to the Home Office. If you tried to apply for a US visa sponsored by a charity, you may be denied in the first place, no question asked.

        (3) This actually sounds more possible, given the “14 day” limit — you would usually renew your visa long before it expires, and you would plan for your departure months before the day you have to leave, in “normal” circumstances. By illegal activity, I did not mean terrible things like murder. It can simply mean not complying with immigration laws which would void her visa, which can include over staying, travel without notification, not reporting to immigration agencies, etc. Shit happens and you have to deal with it.

        I just find it irresponsible that this researcher told the media she was forced to leave without providing more details. Who knows what happened? Who knows if she did something wrong? The media, most of which are citizens, know little about immigration rules, and they often do not do enough fact checking when it comes to immigration topics, and write misleading articles about the “terrible” immigration laws or enforcement which are not actually that terrible.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Don’t speculate. This is an innocent person’s livelihood you are putting at risk.

          • Robert Groen says:

            For once, Norm, I totally agree with you. Strange feeling, but there you are.

          • Grogg says:

            This is done in the United States thousands of times every day. The law is the law and if she does not meet the criteria to stay in the UK she must leave.

      • Pete says:

        who knows? This article, and the articles in scotsman/guardian, do not give the reason the visa was issued “incorrectly”. What does that mean? Did the HO make a mistake? Did the applicant make a mistake and the HO failed to notice until 1 year later? Were they ineligible and the visa was issued when it should not have been? Did the applicant omit information later discovered?

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.

        “Eight years researching Scottish musical life at Glasgow University”. That’s going to re-shape the world. What’s so special about Glasgow University that a good Brexit isn’t going to fix?:-)

      • Vln says:

        Countless grounds:
        1. There were typos in her application form.
        2. There was information missing in her application form.
        3. She accidentally “ticked” “Have you ever been prosecuted?” box (it did happen to a friend of mine and that was the end of her US holidays)
        4. She couldn’t prove enough funds
        5. She didn’t have enough recommendation letters
        6. She did something, even completely unaware, which was against her visa rules (When studying in the States I once did some translation work for one of the professors and he insisted to pay me for it. Next thing I know I’m facing a very serious lady at the International Students Office telling me that I am not allowed to earn a dollar unless it’s authorised by their office. Then I heard “Consider that your first and last warning. Next time you will be deported”
        7. Like I said. There could have been countless grounds on which she was denied a visa. We don’t know any details so it’s pure speculation.

    • V.Lind says:

      Pretty sharp practice — part of the Home Office attitude of “hostile environment” that seems to pervade. That and a preposterously high fee structure.

      Makes the UK look nasty and grasping. And the Home Office, which has long looked this way, utterly unresponsive to the society that surrounds it and the realities thereof.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Oh, come now. Surely “The Guardian” doesn’t display venal attitudes towards the nation and its ability to control borders and boarders – or the sovereign state for that matter!! You have “The Guardian” confused with some other activist undergraduate rag posing as bourgeois.

  • asylumkeeoer says:

    Sajid The Weed.

    • Chris says:

      Not sure Sajid was involved back in July (and before, since these things are not decided overnight)

      • asylumkeeper says:

        You’re right, it’s now his evil twin – the woman who claimed she’d ‘gone on holiday to South Africa’ – but just changed planes there, and then flew on to her actual destination, where she tried to hold negotiations selling restricted British military weapons, without the knowledge of the Ministry of Defence. British Special Services had to be sent to arrest her and drag her back to Britain – where she had a closed-door meeting with Theresa May, emerging as a sacked ex-minister. Unbelievably, Bozo then made her Home Secretary :((

        Don’t we have any pikestaffs left to put their heads on? I’m sure Moggy would approve of that, it’s suitably antiquarian.

  • M McAlpine says:

    We don’t know the facts. Without that any judgment is premature.

  • william osborne says:

    Seems odd to remove someone clearly doing singular work to enhance British culture. This is a time when the UK needs to think very clearly about maintaining academic, intellectual, and cultural contacts with the rest of the world.

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    Flanders and Swann:

    “The Scotsman is mean, as we’re all well aware,
    And bony, and blotchy, and covered with hair!
    He eats salty porridge, he works all the day,
    And he hasn’t got bishops to show him the way.”

  • T. Green says:

    I’d think she, and all other academics in the UK (both UK citizens and foreigners) would be voluntarily fleeing as quickly as possible before Brexit comes along and turns the UK into the next North Korea as Farage and Johnson want.

  • Joey says:

    Party is over. Time to flip burgers like the rest of us talented musicians.

  • Stephen Diviani says:

    Sad and worrying case, and I wish Elizabeth well in her fight to get the decision changed. You know, Norman, in a culture where to wave the EU flag at the Last Night of the Proms is considered ‘disloyal’, albeit ‘faintly’, we shouldn’t be surprised by the behaviour of the Home Office. Just look at all the cases of EU citizens many of whom have lived and worked in the UK for years, some married to UK citizens, who have been refused settled status or the nationalist Home Secretary’s decision, later revoked after it triggered an angry response, to end freedom of movement overnight on October 31st. We all need to be careful of what we say and challenge xenophobic nationalism not doff our caps to it.

  • It would have been an act of journalism to say WHY her stay was not renewed.

  • Markus Brückl says:

    Thank Britain first!