Rugby star’s plea as grandparents face deportation to Iran | UK News

A Scotland rugby international has appealed to the home secretary to reverse a “horrible and nonsensical” decision to deport his grandparents.

Damien Hoyland told Sky News the prospect of the elderly couple being sent back to their native Iran is tearing his family apart.

The Edinburgh Rugby player, who has played four times for Scotland, was speaking after a petition gathered more than 100,000 signatures in support of his grandparents, 83 year-old Mozaffar Saberi and his wife Rezvan Habibimarand, 73.

The couple have applied to spend their final years in Scotland with their family, who are all British citizens. Both grandparents are Iranian nationals but have spent 40 years, on and off, in Edinburgh.

They have travelled back and forth on visitor visas but have been based in the city permanently since 2012. They have applied for leave to remain but their application has been rejected by the Home Office.

Manigeh Hoyland and Guiti Cumming in between their parents Mozaffar Saberi and Rezvan Habibimarand
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Daughters Manigeh Hoyland and Guiti Cumming sit in between the couple

Damien Hoyland told Sky News: “My grandparents are the most loving, caring people I have ever met in my life.

“They are trying to keep a brave face on this but, deep down, it’s tearing them apart.

“They are not going to be seeing their family, their loved ones – their grandchildren, their great grandchildren. I can’t comprehend why it’s happening.”

He continued: “It’s only really just hitting home – the idea that I might not be able to see them ever again. They’ve been there for me ever since I was very young and the thought of not having them around anymore is really horrible.”

The couple have four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild in Scotland.

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Mozaffar and Rezvan (C) have four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild

They have applied to stay on human rights grounds, partly because they look after one grandchild who is severely autistic.

This helps their daughter – a single mother – to work as an NHS nurse. In rejecting their application, the Home Office suggested that she could seek assistance from social services as an alternative.

Hoyland said: “It’s hard to read, it’s completely nonsensical. My cousin is going to be completely distraught, really distressed if they leave.

“He’s really emotionally attached to them and with them not being here, it’s going to cause a lot of problems.

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The two grandparents, pictured here as a young couple, are appealing against deportation

“The solution the Home Office has come up with is that my auntie quits her job and claims benefits to look after my cousin. It’s nonsensical.”

The 25-year-old winger has played all his international matches on tour, outside of Scotland, and so none of his family were in attendance. He’s currently returning to action from injury and hopes to play his way back into the international fold, with his grandparents in a home crowd.

“It would break my heart, the fact they can’t physically be there to watch the game. That’s a big family occasion and they always supported me from such a young age. Whenever they watch stuff on TV, they’re crying their eyes out.”

The two grandparents are appealing against deportation and have a hearing scheduled for 25 February.

Sajid Javid has made a 'personal commitment' to ensure Jack Shepherd is caught
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The family hopes that Home Secretary Sajid Javid can help resolve the situation

The family is hoping that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will use his power to grant the couple leave to remain without the need for further formal process.

Asked what his message to Mr Javid would be, Hoyland said: “Please keep an open mind and look in depth at the effect it’s going to have on my family.

“If this goes through and they get deported, I’ll never see them again, my family will never see them again… it’s going to be very difficult and the thought of it is very, very heartbreaking.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available and in line with UK immigration rules.”

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