THE owner of the firm which curates the controversial Oscar nominee goody bags – containing the deeds to tiny plots of land in the Highlands – has hit back at criticisms of the gimmick.

Lash Fary (below), the founder of Distinctive Assets, the company that provides Academy Award hopefuls with presents before the ceremony, defended the inclusion of a Highland Titles gift as “light-hearted fun”.

The National:

It comes after a petition launched by National columnist Lesley Riddoch to ditch the “insulting” gifts from the gift pack – which has been sent out to Hollywood stars such as Will Smith and Kirsten Stewart.

READ MORE: Thousands back call to 'take Scotland out of Oscars gift bag'

Los Angeles-based Fary is himself the owner of a souvenir plot and his firm has been curating nominee “swag bags” for more than 20 years.

He told The National: “With so many actual problems going on in the world, I find it sad and disheartening that Andy Wightman and Lesley Riddoch are choosing to devote energy and resources to combat something meant to be light-hearted fun.

“Our extraordinary 'Everyone Wins' Nominee Gift Bags are not ‘left on seats’ at the ceremony and in fact have already been delivered to the small group of recipients, so there is really nothing to boycott at this point.”

Highland Titles sells souvenir plots of land near Glencoe and the novelty titles of the Lord or Lady of Glencoe.

Souvenir plots give owners personal rights over the land – as opposed to real ownership. This means they have rights against the seller – Highland Titles, in this instance – but not against anyone else.

In practical terms, this would prevent the owner of the land from having it taken off them by the firm. But if the firm was to go into administration and its assets sold off, the owner would be unable to prevent this.

Scots law specifically prevents souvenir plots from being listed in the Land Register because it is thought this would take up too much of its time.

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Riddoch’s petition had 6179 signatures at the time of writing.

She wrote: “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.”

It follows a blog post from land expert and former Greens MSP Andy Wightman who addressed Oscar nominees, telling them: “You are not the owner of any land in Scotland despite what this company might have led you to believe”.

Douglas Wilson, the director of Highland Titles, 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.

“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 firm was forced to make changes to its website in 2014 after criticism from the advertising watchdog.

Hollywood’s most prestigious awards bash goes ahead tonight.