GOVERNMENT lawyers yesterday claimed it was in the “public interest” to deport a famed American session musician who supports himself on income of around £60,000-a-year.
Dr Steve Forman, a percussionist and lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, is fighting a Home Office bid to throw him out of the country.
A judge at an Immigration Tribunal yesterday (wed) was told Dr Forman, 68, had played with artists including Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and John Lennon.
So many of Dr Forman’s students and supporters turned up to the hearing they could not be accommodated in the court room.
After hearing evidence, the judge deferred his decision until the New Year, meaning the musician will get to spend Christmas in Scotland before learning his fate.
But royalties and other sources of income mean he earns in the region of $7,600 – almost £5,000 – a month.
Dr Forman, who has lived in Scotland for six years and does not claim “a dime” in benefit, has been teaching music students at the conservatoire for four years.
But a lawyer for the Home Office, who declined to give her name to journalists, told the hearing: “The public interest in this case is more than enough to justify his removal.”
She said he could not stay on the basis that he claimed no benefits, wanted to work and had committed no offences.
“The rules are the rules and the rules can’t be met in this case,” she said.
“There is an acceptance there will be no obstacles to the appellant relocation back to the United States of America.”
Dr Forman’s defence lawyer, Fraser Latta, said: “It is in the public interest for people who speak English to remain in the UK. It is in the public interest for people who are self-sufficient to stay in the UK.
“This is a person who is not only a teacher but also a person of value to the community.
“There have been 63 letters of support for Steve from colleagues, students and lecturers.
“This is not someone who is here for monetary reasons. He is not only a teacher for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – he is infused by life here.
“This is someone who has a monthly income of $7,600 – the original decision letter doesn’t deal with this case properly and I asked the Home Office to reconsider on the basis of proportionality.
“This is a man who has had a considerable history of working with David Bowie, Pink Floyd, the Beach Boys and movie sound tracks such as E.T.
“His enthusiasm for what he does drips out of him.”
Judge John Macdonald, deferring a decision until January, agreed there “is no shortage of support for Steve Foreman”.
Dr Forman said after the hearing: “I feel pretty good.
“The judge was fair to all involved.
“I haven’t decided what I’m doing at Christmas yet – I’m just living at the moment.”