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Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has weighed in on the recent land ownership row surrounding the ‘Everyone Wins’ gift bags for top nominees at the Academy Awards.
Attendees of the glitzy event were given informal certificates from Highland Titles Ltd claiming they are now ‘lords’ and ‘ladies of Glencoe’ and granting them ownership of one square foot of Highland land.
Ms Roddick is now calling for the stars of the red carpet to reject the gift saying: ‘I don’t have a high opinion of this sort of ‘land gifting’ at the best of times but there is something particularly grotesque about giving very wealthy people a tiny parcel of our home as a souvenir.
‘You can argue that souvenir land ownership is purely symbolic but when the symbol is that our land is a commodity, that attitude has real-world effects and validates the actions of others who treat the Highlands as an amusement park.’
Highland Titles told a Scottish national newspaper last week that the gifts were ‘harmless fun’ and that they could not actually award anyone with a title such as Lord or Lady.
Ms Roddick added: ‘I understand that the company doing this is based in Guernsey and so, despite owning land in Scotland, is not obliged to publish their accounts or subject themselves to public scrutiny.
‘Think about how this sounds: a company based in a tax haven is gifting our land to Oscar nominees as a wee bit of ‘harmless fun’.
‘Our land is not a novelty gift for some of the wealthiest people in the world to amuse themselves with. It belongs to our communities who live, work, study, grow and prosper in the Highlands and Islands.
‘I ask all the recipients of these ‘goodie bags’ and therefore these ‘deeds’ to do the right thing and speak out against this sort of gifting practice.
‘You did not have an option in whether to receive this – but you do have an option to reject this gift and contribute to the campaign to make Highland land truly our own.’