Saturday, 10 January 2015

Daily Mail Lochaber Highland Estates Balmoral Photos Slip Up

The Daily Mail slipped up last week. Their gossip columnist wrote about Lochaber Highland Estates’ use of a photo of Balmoral to sell their ‘Laird of Lochaber’ product. Problem is, the photo was actually on a fan site, not on the company’s official website. We have no interest in seeing inaccurate stories published about Dr Bevis’s enterprises, and a friend of this blog contacted the Mail regarding the error.

Publication of an apology may be merited. Any notion, however, that Dr Bevis’s reputation has been damaged by the article, as his lawyers will doubtless argue, is laughable: In 2013, Highland Titles were caught red-handed by Private Eye and the Advertising Standards Authority linking in the press coverage section of to clones of newspaper websites where articles about Highland Titles had been favourably doctored. One article on the clone server featured a string of fabricated quotes from a Member of the Scottish Parliament, completely inverting the Member’s actual views on square-foot plot sellers (this article was not itself linked from; instead, a website critical of Highland Titles had been cloned and doctored to link to it). In another fake on the clone server, author data had inadvertently been left, revealing the initials PB.

Back in 2011, Dr Bevis was exposed in the Mirror over the Telephone Preference Register, a classic ‘copycat website’ censured by the Advertising Standards Authority, which used paid Google listings to snaffle unwitting users searching for the free official Telephone Preference Service. Amid public anger over copycat websites, the government has since intervened to stop Google displaying paid adverts ahead of listings for official services.

On such behaviour is Peter Bevis’s reputation founded. Against which backdrop, the Mail erroneously claimed that his website, er, used a photo of Balmoral in their marketing. Sacre bleu!

In fact, the reality of Lochaber Highland Estate’s marketing was distinctly dodgier than the Mail’s erroneous claim. We note as one example this archived page inviting you to ‘buy a noble title’. Claiming they could sell a ‘noble title’ could have landed them in very hot water had this been acted on at the time.

Those of us with longer memories will recall Dr Bevis’s sales of £5,000 half-acre plots of Keil Hill using a photo of (no, not Balmoral!) Delliefure Natural Burial Ground, fully 100 miles away, accompanied by the misleading pitch that ‘... planning permission may be possible in the future and so the plots offer an interesting long term investment...’. How the claim that ‘planning permission may be possible in the future’ can be reconciled with Dr Bevis’s designation of the same land as a Nature Reserve and with Highland Titles’ sales of square-foot plots ‘to protect these conserved lands from ever being developed’ is beyond comprehension. Owners actually wrote about their plans to build retirement cabins and the like, and given the sums involved (one individual spent more than £16,000 on 3 plots, something of an achievement given there is no shortage of Hill/Rough Grazing land in the Highlands and the benchmark price is £100 to £1,000/acre, some of the owners may be very upset when the nature of the misselling of this ‘interesting long term investment’ becomes apparent.

These fond reminiscences aside, we are pleased to see the Mail article has now been taken down. Although there was no possibility of the article damaging Dr Bevis’s reputation more than he has managed through his own efforts, it pains us to see inaccurate stories about his enterprises when the truth offers such rich pickings.


  1. Well, worse than faking the product is the fact that for me they took the money and did not deliver the fake product. I knew it was fake, I just paid for it for laughs. But no delivery and no answer on request to refund either.

    This, I believe, is a case of fraud beyond any question.

  2. So was there, or was there not, any possibility of planning permission in respect of the half-acre plots? If HT thought not, then they had lied to the buyers. If they thought there might be, then they had sold swathes of the hill as potential development plots while telling the square-foot plot owners their objective was to protect the land from development! Either way somebody was being taken for a ride.

    Regarding your benchmark prices for the half-acre plots, the land registry records HT as having paid £973/acre for Keil Hill. Most of that value, though, was in the established commercial timber crop. The half-acre plots were worth much less.