LEADING writer and artist ­Alasdair Gray has criticised arts boards for being "Scotophobic" and appointing English administrators to top jobs.

The author, defending his essay which described the English in Scotland as settlers or colonists, expressed fears about administrators from south of the Border being given leading Scots positions.

Speaking at an event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the author of Lanark and painter of acclaimed public murals said: "The Scots bodies that appoint heads are Scotophobic when it comes to their own kind. I think it is because they don't think Scottish artists would be as manageable."

Gray, who said he was ­working on a translation of Dante's Inferno, said: "Every nation is inhabited by natives who were born there, settlers who have come to live and work there, and colonists who may have come to work there, but are intending to go back home, with as much money as they have been able to make, and they may only be there for a short period of time.

"We should not be surprised the English come here because there is quite a lot of what we might call settlers who have found Scotland strangely agreeable."

He said whether anyone was a settler or colonist was over "how much you identify with the culture of a place, and want to promote it on the basis of ­understanding it".

He pointed to ­Englishman Frank Newbery, who supported Charles Rennie Mackintosh's work, and Edward Dwelly, who wrote the first Scottish Gaelic dictionary, as non-Scots who contributed to culture.

Gray referred to Creative ­Scotland, which has had two English chief executives, Andrew Dixon and Janet Archer, and the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), which has had two English artistic directors, Vicky Featherstone and Laurie Sansom.

On Creative Scotland, he said: "The administrators chose somebody English [Andrew Dixon] who announced 'I am looking forward to learning about Scottish culture'. Can you imagine in Russia, they get someone to be head of the Pushkin museum or the Dostoyesvsky, or the Tolstoy Museum ... saying 'well I don't know much about this, but I like this job and by God I am going to learn about it?'".

Asked if he had anti-English views, he added: "I have always defined as a Scot any adult person with voting rights who lives here."

Gray feared Laurie Sansom, the new NTS director, would work with "people he knows", presumably from England. In fact, Mr Sansom has appointed Graham McLaren, Davey Anderson and Cora Bissett, who live and work in Scotland, as his associate directors.

Mr Gray also spoke of rejecting a knighthood, saying he feared "being a knight meant, if I did not give large tips, people would think you were a cheapskate".