Bullying accusations at Buccleuch

John Glen.
John Glen.

Buccleuch has announced that it has asked the Scottish Tenant Farming Commissioner to examine its negotiations with agricultural tenants over their farm leases.

Allegations of bullying and intimidation were made at a public meeting in Langholm which was held to discuss Buccleuch’s forestry proposals on the Eskdale and Liddesdale Estate. Buccleuch was also accused of potentially failing to follow industry guidance on landlord-tenant negotiations.

At the meeting, the Duke of Buccleuch invited all tenants on the estate to face to face meetings on March 19 to discuss any concerns.

One farming couple who leased land on a five-year fixed term ‘short limited duration tenancy’ claimed they had been bullied as their tenancy came to an end.

There were other accusations that tenants had been unhappy with the way Buccleuch had dealt with the ending of Limited Partnership Agreements, a form of tenancy that is being phased out.

John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch, said: “We deeply regret that any tenant feels they have been treated unfairly or have been bullied in any way. We take our responsibilities very seriously and always try to reach amicable agreements with tenants.

“However, sometimes that does not happen. Even if there is disagreement it should not give rise to accusations of bad professional practice.

“I have contacted Bob McIntosh, the Tenant Farming Commissioner, to ask him to look into these accusations as a matter of urgency. We hope that tenants will make contact with and speak to him on a confidential basis so these matters can be addressed properly. The commissioner has said he will visit the estate and we will give him every assistance in this matter.”

NFUS President Andrew McCornick said: “I would urge any concerned members to make contact with NFUS directly to discuss these in confidence.

“I am encouraged that the Scottish Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner is involved.”