A PETITION calling on Hollywood stars to snub £76,000 Oscars gift bags over a “wounding insult” to Scots has attracted thousands of signatures in under 24 hours.

Herald columnist Lesley Riddoch created the campaign over news that the goodies included for top nominees at tomorrow’s awards show included a plot of Highlands land bestowing the title “Lord or Lady of Glencoe”.

The “gift” comes courtesy of Highland Titles, and is included in the “Everyone Wins” goody bag, produced by Distinctive Assets, which has no link to the Academy Awards.

The gifts remain a stalwart tradition of Oscars season, however, with firms paying thousands to be included.

The Herald:

On the petition, which has 3000 signatures so far, Riddoch said: “It’s a wounding insult for all Scots to see parts of our land traded like trinkets.

“For centuries, Scots have had almost no chance to own our own land thanks to clearances, absentee owners, and sky-high land prices. Actually, not much has changed. It's why the Highlands are so full of empty glens – not people.

“Scotland is one of the last places in Europe where land can be bought and sold on a whim with no questions asked. As a result, a tiny number of people own the land – fewer today than in 1872.

“This storm in a goody bag reminds Scots why land reform is urgent and necessary – to turn the ownership of our beautiful country into the shared responsibility of Scots, not a trinket to be traded by strangers.”

Land campaigner and former MSP Andy Wightman has also hit out at the gift bags – writing to nominees with a warning.

The Herald: Green local government spokesman Andy Wightman warned the party would not back the Scottish Budget

His letter said: “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.

“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 Herald:

Highland Titles director Douglas Wilson, based in Guernsey, has defended the offering – saying the firm makes clear the titles are “harmless fun” and that conservation work has been undertaken.

In response to the petition, he said: "Lord of Glencoe and Lady of Glencoe are our registered trademarks and we invite our customers to make use of them.

"Our customers understand this and, as our reviews show, they are delighted. Ms Riddoch's opinion on this matter is neither relevant nor interesting.

"The petition itself is strange and incoherent. Ms Riddoch states that our business model is a 'wounding insult for all Scots'. What makes her think she is able to speak on behalf of all Scots, thousands of whom enjoy visiting our nature reserves every year? 

"Ms Riddoch then complains about the price of land in Scotland whilst attacking the company that sells it for £30. Then, finally, she complains that too much land is owned by the few and not the many. Does she not know what we do?"

In a prior statement, following Wightman's letter, Wilson 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.

“The suggestion that we do not carry out any conservation work is silly. We have transformed an inaccessible commercial forestry plantation into a thriving nature reserve which has become an official four-star tourist attraction.

“Amongst other things, we have planted thousands of trees; created a three-acre lochan; built a hedgehog hospital; worked with local schools on education projects; helped to reintroduce three endangered species to the area (the red squirrel, the hedgehog and the osprey); installed miles of all-ability access track so everyone can enjoy the nature reserve; given tens of thousands of pounds to various Scottish conservation charities.

“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.”

The gift bags are put together by Distinctive Assets founder Lash Fary, and will this year also include an all-inclusive stay at Forfar’s five-star Turin Castle, anti-aging supplements from spermidineLIFE by Longevity Labs and a spiritual connection coaching session from Self Love with Nicola.

Stars set to receive them include Jessica Chastaine, Olivia Colman, Penélope Cruz, Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Kirsten Dunst, Andrew Garfield, Nicole Kidman, Will Smith and Denzel Washington.