A former MSP has written an open letter to Oscar nominees warning them to “beware” of a gift of a plot of land in Scotland included in their awards ceremony goodie bag. 

This year, famous actors and directors attending the glitzy Hollywood awards ceremony have have been gifted the right to a small piece of the Highlands which allows them to claim the title ‘Lord or Lady of Glencoe’ as part of a coveted gift bag.  

But ex-Scottish Greens politician Andy Wightman said that the gift is a sham and that the company behind it – Highland Titles – has no right to make the claim.  

Mr Wightman was previously sued for defamation over a series of blog posts investigating its affairs.  

Highland Titles charges a minimum of £30 for its plots of land, which are on the Duror Estate 20 miles from Glencoe. It also offers bulk deals wholesale. 

Highland Titles says it makes clear that the recipients get only beneficial rights in the land, and that it cannot actually grant anyone a right to use the titles of ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’ except as a permitted use of the company’s trademarks. They say everyone appreciates that it’s all “harmless fun”.

Mr Wightman, who successfully defended his blogs in court, said Highland Titles exists only to “enrich” its backers. He adds it has no legal right to distribute land and that any claim to proffer a title is meaningless.  

The Herald:

Denzel Washington and Olivia Colman will receive the gift bag

Highland Titles has achieved a great deal of publicity with the Oscars offer, and recently gave away 100 plots with the hit computer game Elden Ring.

Its products range from a 1sqft of land worth £30 to a 100sqft plot worth £150. Highland Titles best-selling gift a 10sqft plot in Kilnaish, worth £75. 

In his letter to Oscar nominees, Mr Wightman writes: “First and foremost, you are not the owner of any land in Scotland despite what this company might have led you to believe. See Section 22 of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012.  

“You have also not been given any right to style yourself Lord or Lady of Glencoe. Highland Titles has no authority or power to bestow such a title on you. 

“You have a piece of paper (several probably) with impressive sounding claims and illustrations. They remain just pieces of paper, however and provide you with nothing more than that.” 

The Herald:

Nicole Kidman is among nominees

The former MSP continues: “Highland Titles was a registered trademark to another company called Highland Titles Ltd registered in the British Virgin Islands but transferred in 2019 to Highland Titles Ltd. (Guernsey) 

“Beware that “Lord of Glencoe” and “Lady of Glencoe” were registered trademarks to a company called Highland Titles Ltd. registered in the British Virgin Islands but transferred in 2020 to Highland Titles OU registered in Estonia. 

“Highland Titles Ltd, being registered in a secrecy jurisdiction and despite owning land in Scotland is not obliged to publish annual reports or accounts and thus its affairs cannot be scrutinised or challenged.” 

The “everybody wins” gift bags - which are not officially part of the Oscars - are provided by LA-based Entertainment Company Distinctive Assets and are said to be worth £75,000. 

The collection of celebratory prizes is given to each of the nominees in the Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress and Best Director categories – which this year includes Will Smith, Olivia Coleman, Javier Bardem, Kirsten Dunst and Steven Spielberg. 

Other gifts – not connected to Highland Titles – include an all-inclusive stay at the five-star Turin Castle in Forfar.  

Replying to The Herald in an email from Guernsey, Douglas Wilson, Director of Highland Titles, said that Mr Wightman's blog was "error-strewn".

He said: "We have been selling gift-sized souvenir plots of land for 15 years.  Our customers obtain a personal right to their souvenir plot of land, which is a valid form of ownership that can be passed on to future generations.

"This is not disputed by anyone except Mr Wightman, it seems. Fishing rights are sold in exactly the same way and so it is simply untrue to suggest they are meaningless."

He added that Highland titles had conduced a great deal of conservation work in the area through the proceeds of selling titles, including the introduction of rare species.

Mr Wilson said: "All of this has been terrific for the local economy and, according to Trip Advisor, we have one of the most popular nature reserves in the country.

"Last year, we even bought 130 acres in Glen Nant which is recognised as a National Nature Reserve.

"We make it very clear on our website that we cannot bestow titles on anyone.  Lord of Glencoe and Lady of Glencoe are our registered trademarks and we give our customers permission to use them.  This is quite clearly harmless fun.  All of our advertising complies with the Advertising Standards Authority rules."