A gay couple have said that years of homophobic and anti-English abuse have driven them from their remote Scottish home, where they run a chocolatier business, after their alleged tormentors took them to court for assault.
Paul Maden, 45, and James Findlay, 40, moved to Balnakeil village near Durness in 2006. The village was once a Cold war camp, but has since become a largely artisan community.
They set up a chocolatier business called Cocoa Mountain and were successful enough to start a cafe, a mail order and online store, and to export their chocolates internationally. They count Yoko Ono and Prince Charles among the fans of their chocolates.
Despite their success, they say they will leave Balnakeil as a local father and son have taken “offense” at their lifestyle and subjected them to years of insults and threats.
The conflict escalated in April 2012 and John Morrison, 63, and his son Malcolm, 35, took the couple to court for assault. The Morrison’s claimed the couple had flagged down their van and punched the elder Morrison when he stopped and wound down the window.
Mr Maden and Mr Findlay denied the allegations, claiming Mr Morrison had been shouting at them from his van, then dragged Mr Maden’s head through the window and struck him. He claimed to have hit back in self defence only.
Defence lawyer Marc Dickson said to the Morrison’s during the trial: “For whatever reason, you have chosen to dislike [Maden and Findlay] and make their lives miserable.”
Malcolm Morrison replied: “Yes, because they make everybody’s life miserable.”
Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist ruled that the case was not proven, but Mr Findlay said that he and Mr Maden would move to get away from the Morrisons.
“We constantly live in fear. We’re looking to get away as quickly as possible but at the moment it’s difficult because of the financial climate,” he said.
“I feel Durness is quite a tolerant village. It’s just the Morrisons that have taken a dislike to us.”