SCOTTISH author Val McDermid has claimed "rich tourists" doing the North Coast 500 route have been taking food from the Lochinver Community Larder in Sutherland – which has supplies meant for those in poverty.

The Highland larder, run by the Assynt Development Trust, reduces waste while helping those in need of food. Similar to a food bank, the organisation seeks to help anyone who may need help in the area.

The boss of the larder has rejected the claim made by McDermid.

McDermid tweeted on Thursday that some tourists had been taking from the collection.

The crime writer said: "Just when you thought people couldn’t stoop lower … rich tourists doing the North West 500 route have been helping themselves to the Lochinver Community Larder (a sort of food bank) Don’t you just love the benefits tourism brings to the Highlands?"

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Willie Jack, chair of Assynt Development Fund in Lochinver, said there is no evidence that such an incident occurred.

Jack told The National: "We have no evidence that there was a campervan user who was a visitor using the food bank at all.

"The food bank is centred at the Leisure Centre deliberately so there are no houses overlooking it so that people can come and go freely.

"According to people I've spoken to, they have no recollection of seeing anyone from a camper van using food larder.

The National: A food larder, similar to a food bank, helps feed those in need as well as redoing wasteA food larder, similar to a food bank, helps feed those in need as well as redoing waste

"There may have been someone from a camper van, donating food to the food loader, because that happens too.

"We definitely refute the claim the food larger was being abused by those who have no need or right to use it. That's not the case as far as we know."

Jack said that if someone, who is not an Assynt local, happened to be in the area they would not be refused help. He said while the food bank is designed for those in the community, it will help anyone in Assynt who needs it.

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One volunteer at the Assynt Food Larder added: “There is no evidence that anyone took an excessive amount of food over the last few days. The usage is in line with our expectations, so there is no substance to this story.”

Jack added that Assynt Community Larder is currently in need of supplies and funds with their deliveries coming under strain due to the war in Ukraine.

People can donate by heading to the Assynt Leisure Centre in south-west Sutherland.