Highland Clearances – Zielsdorfs Deported Tomorrow 415

The Zielsdorf family will be deported by the UK Home Office tomorrow, in an act of pointless Tory cruelty that enforces immigration regulations designed for SE England and totally unsuited to the needs of the Highlands. Laggan village store is now closed down.

We called on the Zielsdorf family again two months ago. Having been unable to find anybody else to buy and run the business in Laggan for a sum which would anywhere near clear their investment, they literally have no home to go to in Canada. Jason is hoping to buy an old bus for them to live in. Yes, a bus. They are however a resilient and cheerful family buoyed by their religious faith.

You can find worse acts of Tory cruelty – the cutting of benefits to the terminally ill deemed able to work a few more weeks, for example. But it is hard to conceive of an act of Tory cruelty which is more absolutely pointless than the deportation of the Zielsdorfs. Laggan loses its store, they lose their home and living, and the store/cafe’s employee loses their job. Not to mention the Tory fantasy of leaving the EU and rejoining the British Empire as rather strangely kicking off by deporting Canadians.

I was simply horrified by the nasty comments underneath a story on this in the Scotsman a couple of weeks ago. I will not link to it. I like to think that the nastiness of May does not reflect our society, but there are some deeply unpleasant people out there in the unionist community. The comments also made a large number of totally incorrect assumptions. In fact the Zielsdorfs have claimed no UK benefits of any kind and have used neither the NHS nor the school, they home educate. Personally I think as fully participating and tax-paying members of the community they should have used those state assets, but they were scrupulous in not doing so.

Original Post 17 October 2016:

There is so much injustice in Tory Britain you trip over it when you are not looking. We just enjoyed a long weekend in the Highlands, and stayed through airbnb at the Wayfarers’ Rest in Laggan. Our hosts were the delightful Zielsdorf family, who could not have been more friendly and welcoming. Their kindness and attention were particularly remarkable given they are every second awaiting the arrival of the border force to deport them.

Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)

Cameron and some of the Zielsdorf children on the banks of the Spey (with permission)

Jason and Christy Zielsdorf are Canadian. They have been in Scotland for eight years, legally, and several of their children were born here. After studying theology at St Andrews, Jason decided to stay on. Armed with an entrepreneur visa, two years ago he bought the general store and bothy in the small Highland village of Laggan. The premises had been empty for 18 months, because there is not a rich living in providing this community service. The Zielsdorfs reckoned that by investing in the accommodation and opening a coffee shop highlighting their excellent home cooking (and it really is excellent), they could make a go of it and cater not just for locals but the passing hillwalkers. And they have done.

It took some time and a lot of work for the business to find its feet, and to date they have only been able to give full time employment to one person, not the two their visa stipulates. Although they argue given time their business will reach a stage to employ two people, the Home Office says their time is up and is insisting on their deportation; a month ago they were told they will be deported imminently.

Deporting children who have only ever known Scotland is ludicrous. Fairly well the entire community of Laggan has written in support of the Zielsdorfs. Both Jason and Christy have Scottish ancestry.

It is not easy to run a business in the Highlands and Laggan is better for what the Zielsdorfs have done. Local MP Drew Hendry has worked hard for them, but met only unhelpfulness from the Home Office, who have not even given a ministerial meeting promised in response to a parliamentary question.

We do not know when they will get the 5am knock on the door and be taken into custody. They have been unable to sell the Wayfarers’ Rest, in which they invested £240,000, because just as before they came, nobody else wants to run it. In an act of supreme pettiness, the Home Office have confiscated Jason’s driving licence, which makes life in the Highlands near impossible. Also as a former pastor Jason used to pay community visits on elderly and vulnerable people in isolated locations, which he cannot now do.

The truth is, having set arbitrary numerical limits on net immigration, if the Home office deports the Zielsdorf family that reduces net immigration by seven – and they are low-hanging fruit, easy to find, not able to disappear and defenceless. Their plight is Tory Britain’s heartless xenophobia in action.

This case is a prime example of how ridiculous it is to rule the Highlands from London. The law is framed to deal with the immigration situation in London or Birmingham. It is totally inappropriate to the Highlands, where the problem is under-population, where a village store is a precious thing and providing even one full time job to the community is invaluable.

It is also of course worth noting that it takes a special kind of government stupidity to embark upon post-Brexit relationships by picking on the Canadians.

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415 thoughts on “Highland Clearances – Zielsdorfs Deported Tomorrow

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  • RobG


    The SAS have stormed the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and have taken Julian Assange into custody.

    In a statement, prime minister Theresa May said that it was a humanitarian intervention to prevent barrel bombs and chemical weapons being dropped on the poor children of Kensington.

      • glenn_uk

        I wouldn’t take that threat too seriously, RoS. There was cross-party support calling for the murder of Assange, Chelsea Manning, Snowden, and anyone that supported them – mainly from the filthy Republicans, needless to say.

        The chances of a drone strike in the capital city of such a strong Official Friend of the US is as near zero as can be calculated. It was never a serious comment, no more than throwaway comments along these lines are said – when it’s thought to be in private – by people on an everyday basis.

        • Republicofscotland


          I tend to agree with you on that, though I know you won’t agree with me when I mention 7/7, there was not hesitation in blowing up London then, but I’ll leave it at that. Incidently have you seen the Ripple Effect?


          Still on Assange, I fear under the right circumstances, the US would not hesitate to neutralise Mr Assange.

          • glenn_uk

            I don’t disagree at all, RoS – they’d love to have him disappeared into one of their gulags, and meet with an unfortunate accident. Perhaps – most tragically of course – come into contact with a bunch of jailhouse psychopaths, or even more likely, find himself suicided.

          • Alan

            But there are no grassy knolls in that part of London. You need a grassy knoll to confuse the average dumbstruck Yank, such as Ben.

            P.S. “Dumbstruck” may be the result of an over-enthusiastic spell-checker 🙂

  • hannie

    we need to stick together, and hopefully this can be changed. It is for Scotland to decide not Westminster. They are working and contributing people so what is the problem

  • John Goss

    What really bothers me is the way in about 100 years we have gone from having welcoming borders to a country woven with the warp of racism. Where would the world have been without the J-wish diaspora now well integrated in every country. And what a worthy contribution they have made. I agree there were the pogroms but all that should be behind us now in an enlightened society.

    Today unfortunately it is other races and religions being persecuted because of humankind’s lack of tolerance. Looking back over this and other threads you will observe it is those most supportive of apartheid Israel that are most opposed to the integration of other nationals into our country and other countries. You would think they would be the most tolerant. Unfortunately the lessons of history are soon forgotten and the same mistakes recur.

  • Sharp Ears

    Imagine being 14 and travelling from Afghanistan to Calais on your own, walking and by bus. That’s a journey of 5500 kms.

    Aimal was reunited with his brother yesterday after 11 years apart. His brother who works as a chef was able to provide the appropriate paperwork to allow Aimal to come here to join him.

    Families speak of their joy at being reunited with Calais children
    17 October 2016
    The brother of a child migrant coming from Calais to the UK said it will be a “blessing” to have him back.
    Asif Khan, 25, fled Afghanistan to come to the UK 11 years ago, but his younger brother Aimal, 14, stayed behind.

    Six months ago, his sibling made it to Calais, but had not yet made the final leg of his journey across the Channel to be reunited with his brother. Now he is one of 14 migrant children who have been brought into the country to join their families.’


    We, with 27 other countries, invaded their country and wrecked it. It was called Operation Enduring Freedom!

    • Alan

      “Imagine being 14 and travelling from Afghanistan to Calais on your own, walking and by bus. That’s a journey of 5500 kms.”

      Yes, but like the man said, the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.

        • Macky

          “as the rules say he should, upon entering Europe, probably via Greece, surely his journey would have been many thousands of miles shorter”

          Great convenient “rule” for the richer larger northern European countries, but rather not so great for the poorer, smaller front line Southern European countries like Greece, Italy & Malta; maybe we should let Turkey into the EU rather than keep trying to bribe her with zillions to keep refugees, probably cheaper in the long run !

    • Anon1

      How many safe countries of refuge did Aimal pass through before he stumbled upon the one with free housing, healthcare and bennies for life?

      • Mark

        Probably not that many where he had work in ng family who could support him rather than him having no family and no support. Do you have no empathy whatsoever?

  • fwl

    RT could improve it’s profile if it gave Russians freedom to go off piste and explore their views. Russian cynicism and pragmatic realism with a touch of poetry would be a good sell provided there was no obvious script. More Russian contributors and less Brits could make it more interesting. It’s a poor ruse to think foreigners will buy a message if its sold to them by foreigners.

    Actually that about all media is better without over zealous editorial control unless that control is ruthless objectivity.

    Everyone needs some control to kick off against, but the audience wants to be amused and not feel it is being sold a story.

  • Max

    While some on the left are brutally attacked in the media for criticising policies of a fascistic Israeli government, policies that a lot of good Israelis are also critical of, we seem to be intentionally turning a blind eye to a much more dangerous form of racism in this country. It is amazing that, even when it is starin them right in the face, the media still refuses to make the connection between xenophobia in the 1930s and xenophobia in the 2010s, both of which were manufactured by government for the sole purpose of diverting attention from the real problem.

    I never know with government, if decisions are made on account of stupidity as Craig says, or if they are made out of sheer wickedness and the need for a scapegoat to take attention off of itself.

  • Paul Barbara

    Sickening story indeed; I hope they get to stay.
    To the nit-picking sociopaths who say ‘it’s a points-based system, and transparent’ and the law is the law, why are they so pathetically pro-Establishment that they don’t get up in arms against the worse, War Criminal crimes of the HMG?
    Invading Iraq was a War Crime, Crime Against Humanity and the overarching ‘Crime Against Peace’, and were Libya and Syria (which is continuing);(Afghanistan was also invaded and occupied over a lie, but I’ll refrain from going there on this thread).
    And selling arms to Saudi Arabia? And having the SAS train armed insurgents in Syria (as they previously also trained Pol Pot’s murderous butcher ‘troops’?
    Far more serious crimes than providing a needed and welcomed service in a remote Scottish community, one would think?
    And no points needed – what HMG has and continues to do with illegal wars, training terrorists and arms sales to murderous Regimes like Saudi Arabia are out-and-out diabolical abominations, and illegal to boot.

  • berlingooner

    It’s easier to get into the UK on the back of a lorry and then live & work permanently in the black economy than it is is to deal with the home office officially. The problem once again is poor & antiquated legislation, chronic understaffing and low morale. My Japanese wife of 20 odd years and the mother of my two dual citizenship British-Japanese children was faced with deportation due to the incompetence of Border Agency officials back in 2010. It was only the timely intervention of my local MP Ben Bradshaw who sorted the issue out but the number of stories I hear about families having their lives ruined – often due to clerical oversight or incompetence is incredible. The problem the Zielsdorf have is that their case is simply lobbed into one big bucket full of other cases and they have to fight their way out of along . There is no direct phone number, no email address and often no specified case officer – everything is conducted by snail mail taking months & often years to resolve. It’s Kafkaesque & terrifying.

    • Old Mark

      It’s easier to get into the UK on the back of a lorry and then live & work permanently in the black economy than it is is to deal with the home office officially. The problem once again is poor & antiquated legislation, chronic understaffing and low morale.

      Spot on Berlingooner- it may surprise some commenters here, who have my card marked as a ‘little Englander Racist’, that my wife like yours is from a ‘visible ethnic minority’, and a decade and a half ago, when she initially arrived here, I too found out how Kafkaesque it was to have to deal with the aptly named Lunar House in deepest Croydon. Determined fraudsters are able to run rings around them, but apparently honest immigrants such as the Zielsdorfs, living in a part of the country where immigrants are sparse, and thus easily traceable by the authorities, find themselves low hanging fruit, and consequently prone to the rigours of enforcement action that others find all too easy to avoid- such as the crooks in this case, who operated for years before the authorities caught up with them, and facilitated the illegal entry of over a thousand of their countrymen, and others –


  • Winnie the Pooh

    To put it gently, the government, the Whitehall nutters, the Sir Humphries, the Yes Ministers and their ilk, have a tradition of screwing up peoples lives, to the detriment of he British country.

    Best to ignore the sods and just get on with your life quietly, and stick two fingers up at Whitelall. If the police come to run you out of town, give ’em a stiff drink, and by the time they’ve sobered up, they fnd themselves in some isolated lochside place, no radio, no car, no shoes and no idea of where they are. Sod ’em !

  • Jim CURNYN

    We have to stand together against this crude and senseless bullying. This family are contributing to their community. They are an asset not a burden. This governments xenophobic behaviour in these matters is the beginning of the kind of creeping authoritarianism that , so often in history, can grow into a much more sinister and murderous hatred.

  • Peter

    Well done all you no voters. We could have had this wrapped in 2014 but you chose to believe what you saw on tv and what you read in your establishment newspapers. If all this family need is another full time employee then surely something could be done on that front to appease the Tory Devils – soar Alba!

  • Margareta Maslovaric

    I have visited the Highlands and what the English government is doing to the Scottish people is another case of bullying. Why not stick too England and let the Scottish people decide

  • Marie Mirfield

    I met Jason & his lovely children last year and was astonished to hear of the threats to their visa after all the work they had done. Delays in the build, of which weather played a large part, contributed significantly to the difficulty employing staff & creating trade. Their shop was a welcome breath of air (not least the good coffee) and the rock cake the best one tasted (& I love homemade food). Why steal their livelihood, financial & personal investment at the stage where it is contributing regularly into the system?! Especially with the knowledge of difficulty of business in the Highlands when theirs is now working?

    We sadly have a friend in a similar situation who is being threatened with being sent home after almost ten years of contributing to society here, building a life & investing significantly, including supporting other small businesses & community groups. How does this make sense? My family have travelled the world for generations after work (indeed many are sensibly still abroad!) & many people from other places built our society. Why are the government believing their & media own rhetoric? Why are these decisions made in London & even the written appeal of Nicola Sturgeon not accepted as support in previous cases? What can we do to help?

    • Marie Mirfield

      Oh and why are the visa rules written in such unintelligible & ambiguous language that even lawyers misinterpret them? I have read parts of the rules & two higher level science degrees did not help to combat the ambiguity of phrasing.

  • Charlotte Peters Rock

    I wish them well. Would Scotland Ministers not stand for them, against the Home Office?

  • Edward Freeman

    The only answer that I can see is independence for Scotland. I am only one of many Scots – a majority, I think – who are outraged by the actions of a Home Office that is really a Home Counties Office answering to the Government of Little England and to that Government alone. To put it another way, if the population of Laggan want the Zielsdorfs to stay, if the population of Dingwall want the Brains to stay, I think they are far better placed and far more entitled to judge who their friends and neighbours ought to be than a bureaucrat in Croydon.

    The Home Office does not speak for Scotland. This is a pretty good argument for concluding that the country for which it does speak is not Scotland’s home any more, if it ever was.

    • Therapymum

      Very true! We had all the rhetoric about how we are a full partnership in the UK blah blah, but when push comes to shove Scotland is only 9% of the UK population, so we can easily be ignored. So when we vote almost solidly for SNP, the 56/59 MPs in WMG fade into the background – not because they are doing a bad job, because in my view they are performing well, but because they are a small percentage amongst the rest. And it’s worse for Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • Rick

    This story demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of the brexit xenophobia. Not in my name…! – this cruelty is disgustingly vindictive.

    • Paul Barbara

      Not all Brexiteers are xenophobic – I voted Out because I know the EU is just a huge piece of the NWO One World Government ‘Gulag’ jigsaw. Even many who wouldn’t accept that, are not ‘happy’ that the seat of Power, or apparent seat, moves further away and is even more unaccountable than is now in Parliament.

  • Alistair Black

    The sad part is that you don’t hear any of the despicable Tories speaking out about this type of injustice.

  • Pauline Daw

    This is ridiculous to deport this family. They have children who are Scottish and have lived here all of their lives. They contribution is significant within their community employing go call people.
    They must stay!!!

  • Sharp Ears

    I can’t bear much more of this.

    Some loud mouthed harridan, reviewing the papers on Sky News just now, was almost screaming her demand for dental examinations of the children coming over from Calais. Just as a vet ascertains a dog’s or horse’s age. It is disgusting stuff.

    The rags they were reviewing included these headlines:

    Daily Express – Fury at soft checks on child migrants
    The Sun – Tell us the tooth


    • Sharp Ears

      The propaganda on this vile stuff was propagated by a Welsh Conservative MP, David Davies.

      Dentists condemn call for child migrants’ teeth to be tested

      ‘A Tory MP who called for child migrants arriving in the UK from Calais to have their teeth tested to verify their ages has been condemned by dentists.

      A number of unaccompanied children from the “Jungle” camp have arrived to join relatives in the UK – amid suggestions they could be adults trying to get in.

      David Davies, MP for Monmouth, said mandatory teeth checks would reassure people the UK was not being exploited.

      But the British Dental Association said such checks would be unethical.’

      Interesting that he has a Hungarian wife, was a Special Constable on British Transport for 9 years when he had use of a travel permit worth +£3k annually, until he was booted off for being political, and within a year of being elected, was off to Isr*el with the CFoI. Does a lot of paid lecturing for Capita too.

      • Old Mark

        Sharp Ears-

        What you call ‘vile propaganda’ is simply intelligent human beings using the evidence before their eyes, and drawing conclusions you don’t like.

        You’ll note this report on the recently admitted ‘child migrants’ includes several photographs. If I were to encounter the ‘child migrant’ in the in the blue top in the 3rd photo down at the supermarket checkout, I would assume he was a late 20s Roma gypsy and not an ‘Afghan child’.


        How many 6th formers at your local school look as old as this guy ?

        • Macky

          Stop ! Halt the humanitarian allowing of even the pathetic number of vulnerable child refugees into Britain, because people like Old Mark are worried that a handful of “adults” might also get in !

          Old Mark is suspicious because he can’t understand why foreign children, who have lived all their young lives in war zones, and who have endured the unimaginably hardships of their long journeys to Europe, don’t look like your typical English 6th formers !!

          Apart from normal understandable desires to get out of a hell-hole to somewhere better, what else may cause desperate refugees to lie about their age ? The Daily Mail itself provides the answer;

          “Home Office guidance says an asylum seeker should be treated as an adult if their physical appearance or demeanour ‘very strongly suggests’ that they are significantly over 18 years of age’. It adds careful consideration must be given to assessing whether an applicant falls into this category as they ‘could be liable for detention’. !!

          Many refuges have been killed trying to cross the Channel, including many cases of young children who although officially cleared for entry to the UK, are being stalled by months long bureaucracy, which has resulted in even some of these children getting themselves killed, and it’s the mounting outrage over this, that has caused this reluctant allowing of a pathetic number of vulnerable child refugees.

          • Old Mark

            Old Mark is suspicious because he can’t understand why foreign children, who have lived all their young lives in war zones, and who have endured the unimaginably hardships of their long journeys to Europe, don’t look like your typical English 6th formers !!

            Stop putting words into my mouth Macky.

            Since the photos of the first batch of Jungle migrants admitted under the family reunification scheme were published, thousands of people have commented on how old some of the alleged ‘child migrants’ actually look- of course, to Left bigots such as yourself, this is simply proof of Endemic English Racism.

            A different explanation to the one you’ve just brainfarted was given on the BBC lunchtime news by an unnamed ‘spokesperson’ from (I assume) the Border Agency- apparently some of those in the group photographed leaving the Jungle weren’t in fact child migrants, but Home Office approved interpreters.

            That may be true- in which case, perhaps the Home Office could identify these ‘interpreters’ so that they aren’t confused, quite understandably, with the younger charges they are accompanying.

            It may however also be the case that some mandarin at the Borders Agency/Home Office is blowing smoke, to distract attention away from the lamentable verification job they’ve done on those claiming to be children, and thus entitled to family reunification- whilst simultaneously indulging in a bit of essential arse covering.

          • Macky

            “Stop putting words into my mouth Macky. ”

            @Old Mark, I really don’t need to; any fair-minded person who follows your comments iro immigrants/immigration etc, knows exactly all they need to know about where your “issues” are coming from. A total lack of empathy is the least of your problems.

      • Sharp Ears

        Craig Murray ‏@CraigMurrayOrg · 12h

        The UK recruits 16 year old child soldiers into its army. No wonder British xenophobes are confused about what older children look like.

        • Old Mark

          Sharp Ears-

          There’s no confusion on my part about what ‘older children’ actually look like, thank you very much- it isn’t me who needs an eye test.

          There is however, apparent confusion on the part of some of the SNP amen corner on this blog who, for Scottish voting purposes, regard 16&17 year olds as ‘adults’ but who at the same time argue that young men claiming to be 17 year olds in the Calais jungle are really ‘children’ and are thus entitled to admittance to the UK, with no questions asked.

  • Chris Airey

    Couldnt agree more, its despicable behaviour by a government department that seems to have no sense of morality or decency. I’ve got a far better idea, how about instead we deport 7 members of the Home Office team responsible for this travesty and ban them from ever crossing the border again. That way their numbers will meet their target and this family can get on with living a decent life in our great country of Scotland. #indyref2 can’t come soone enough

  • Jo Ritson

    Good grief what a shocking story and what a sad picture it paints of this vile Government’s racist, xenophobic and I’ll thought out policies. Thank you for telling it.

    I sincerely hope that this lovely family is allowed to stay. Sounds trivial, but is there an on line petition to be signed and shared?

  • Valerie nichol

    None of this makes any sense.This case needs to be carefully considered again by someone with common sense!

  • Ian M

    This is really sickening, and makes me deeply ashamed of this country. There is no justice or fairness for people who gave made their lives here and contributed more than many native Scots. There ought to be no question whatsoever that this family are welcome here and are already full citizens with a much rights as anybody else. I hope they get as much publicity as the Brain family with the same result. Why can’t Holyrood stand up against this sort of thing and refuse to comply, and help protect people who are already scots citizens?

  • Sharp Ears

    Craig once gave evidence to this committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights..

    This is their latest report.

    The Government won’t explain when it thinks it is OK to kill people with drones
    MPs and peers say the lack of transparency on the policy is ‘not good enough’

    The membership:

    The chair is Harriet Harman.

  • K. Burns

    Total madness: people who have invested more than a quarter of a million pounds and revitalised a community will any day now get a knock on the door at 5am (G4S thugs, no doubt) and be put in a van, possibly handcuffed (knowing G4S, the kids too, probably) and forced onto an aeroplane and deported back to Canada . As the author says, Tory Britain’s heartless xenophobia in action. 🙁

  • Therapymum

    This is the same kind of situation as the family from Australia who wanted to settle in the Black Isle. We need people in Scotland. We need employers and businesses and facilities providers to help keep communities alive. If nothing else than pure self interest we need people as Scotland’s population is aging quicker than elsewhere in the UK. This is crazy! Is the UK Border Force going to separate the family, as some of the children are Scots, being born here, and also have rights? Incomers settle where they want to live in the main and rural Scotland needs people with commitment and imagination to improve the economy. Why on earth would we deport a family who are doing all that??

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