It has not been the best of starts to the summer for Scottish Land and Estates (SL&E), which represents Scotland's landowners.

In June Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, put the possibility of granting Scottish farming tenants an absolute right to buy (ARTB) – whether the landowners want to sell or not – back on the agenda, saying it would be considered during the forthcoming Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act review.

Landowners had reason to believe the issue had been put to bed, not least when in May the interim report from the Scottish Government's land reform review group made clear it wasn't going to touch it with a barge pole.

Then last week there was the public chilling of relations between SL&E and NFU Scotland (NFUS) after the latter wrote to Mr Lochhead saying right to buy was very much part of the debate. It also raised the possibility of farmers being able to assign their tenancies. A bit close to rights enjoyed by crofters for landlords' liking. The episode seemed to signal a breach in SL&E's and NFUS's common front against land reform and right to buy.

The day before that the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) in Westminster published a report commissioned to stimulate debate for the inquiry into land reform the committee is planning to launch. It was the work of historian Jim Hunter; Peter Peacock, a former Scottish Minister; Andy Wightman, a land rights writer and researcher; and Michael Foxley, a former leader of Highland Council. The report pulled no punches, arguing, among other things, that, given all the talk about fighting against tax fraud and evasion, the SAC could do worse than have a look at Scotland's large estates. Specifically, how their ownership can be concealed behind nominee companies, transferred to offshore tax havens and how charitable trusts are used to obtain tax exemptions.

The SL&E, perhaps understandably, seemed to assume it was the freelance product of four long-time activists in the land reform cause who were just chancing their collective arm by calling for the SAC to investigate.

It didn't have the normal tone of a report with the imprimatur of the Palace of Westminster. So SL&E chairman Luke Borwick was quick to dismiss it: "The individuals submitting this report have been tactical land reform activists for many years. Calling for urgent investigation by a Westminster committee on issues already under detailed review in Scotland seems pointless."

It is understood SL&E was pretty smartly told by Westminster to get its facts right and within a couple of days the organisation had amended the statement on its website to acknowledge the SAC had commissioned the report. But Mr Borwick's opinion hadn't changed: "The true story of land ownership is, as expected, deliberately misconstrued by the report, which is frustrating."

Land reform campaigners used to complain that legislators in London danced to the Scottish landed lobby's tune, but it seems Westminster is expanding its taste in music.