This blog, together with a previous one published on 29 September 2015 were the subject of defamation proceedings brought by Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC against myself in a citation from the Court of Session served on me on 21 March 2017. Since 30 March 2017, following legal advice, the blogs have been password protected. The case (Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC vs. Andy Wightman A111/17) was heard by Lord Clark at the Court of Session from 29 October 2019 – 8 November 2019. A Decision by Lord Clark was published on 11 March 2020 which rejected all of the pleas of the pursuer in what was a comprehensive victory for me. As a matter of law therefore neither of these two blogs are defamatory. The Pursuer issued a statement to the media on 11 March stating that “we will certainly appeal the decision”. However, the 28 day period in which to appeal has now expired and no appeal has been lodged. I am pleased therefore to now remove the password protection and enable them to be read as they were published subject to one caveat.

Lord Clark concluded that in the blogs (and a few tweets which were also complained of) I had made four untrue statements. Contrary to claims by my detractors, none of these was a lie. Indeed Lord Clark made clear that I was a “credible and reliable witness” who “gave his evidence in an honest, straightforward and coherent manner”. Lord Clark stated that “I accept his evidence about what he knew and did not know at the time of the various publications” and that “the suggestion he made statements that he knew were untrue simply has no proper basis.” [Lord Clark at 73]. I have thus edited the two blogs with a footnote marked in (red) to indicate the relevant untruths and why they arose.

Finally, what was revealed of this case in Lord Clark’s decision was a fraction of what was revealed in Court. What was revealed in Court was a fraction of the evidence assembled in the 1494 Productions (written documents lodged as evidence) lodged in the Court (59 by the Pursuer and 1435 by Defender). And what was revealed in the Productions was a fraction of what I have learned in the course of extensive preparatory research over the past 3 years about the activities of Highland Titles and Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC. I will be publishing a detailed blog revealing what really went on over the past three years. Given the litigous nature of both parties, I will, of course, have these blogs legalled before publication.


I intended to have published this blog on Highland Titles Day (10 February – see Malcolm Combe’s blog) ) Apologies to those who were expecting it then.

Last September, I blogged about the latest effort by Highland Titles Ltd. to raise lots of money from people who think they get to own some land in Scotland and help conservation at the same time (see a recent advert in BBC Wildlife magazine – 1.6Mb pdf – for a flavour of their business model).

Highland Titles Ltd. is a company registered in Alderney. It is owned by Highland Titles Charitable Trust which is registered in Guernsey. See my blog of 12 Feb 2015 for further background. The company makes its money from purporting to sell small plots of land as “souvenir plots”. The controversy over the affairs of this company has been generated because no-one who buying such plots can in law become the owner of the land and because the financial affairs of the company remain opaque, being registered in a secrecy jurisdiction.

In its latest efforts to garner greater respectability, Highland Titles has become involved with a conservation project called Wildcat Haven CIC. The fundraising arm of this organisation is a Community Interest Company called Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC with its registered office at Sage & Co Chartered Accountants in Denbighshire, North Wales. There are two Directors of the company, Emily O’Donoghue and Douglas Wilson. Mr Wilson is resident in Alderney and is also a a Director of Highland Titles Ltd (1) and a Trustee of Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland.(2)

One of the requirements of a Community Interest Company is the provision of an asset lock that restricts the disposal of assets of the CIC. Assets can be transferred to another CIC or charity and such a body must be designated in the Articles of the CIC. In the case of Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC, the designated body to become the potential recipient of the assets is Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland.

In response to my September blog, Emily O’Donoghue (who is a Director of both Wildcat Haven CIC and Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC) responded and I published the response as an update to the blog. In turn, I then posed a number of questions to Emily as follows.

  1. It may be a bit of fun but you are asking folk to help you by “actually buying part of the land we plan to conserve” You need to be much clearer that people who spend £100 do not become owners of the land.
  2. You say that part of the Loch Loyne site has been gifted to you. Can you tell me when this transaction took place and when it was submitted to the Registers of Scotland for recording? Can you advise the extent and location of this land?
  3. Are there any wildcats on the Loch Loyne land?
  4. Why is my IP address blocked from viewing your website?
  5. What is the role of Highland Titles in your fundraising? Do they receive any payment? Do they receive any commission on each plot sold?

I never received a reply but can provide an update on some of the questions.

  1. The Wildcat Haven website still contains the claim that “We are asking you to help us by actually buying part of the land we plan to conserve.”
  2. Following Emily’s claim that part of the land had been gifted “to us”, I checked the title and discovered that Highland Titles Ltd. remained the owner and had gifted no land to Wildcat Haven. Interestingly, on 9 December 2015, however, Highland Titles Ltd. made an application to the Registers of Scotland to transfer part of Paitna Wood/BumbleBee Haven/Wildcat Haven to Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC.
  3. No response.
  4. No response.
  5. No response.

It remains unclear what financial arrangements have been entered into and why Douglas Wilson is a Director and why Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland is the designated beneficiary of the assets of Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC.

As I pointed out in my September blog, if all of the 75 hectares of Paitna Wood/BumbleBee Haven/Wildcat Haven/Wildernesse Wood were sold even as 10 square foot plots, this would generate £40.35 million in sales revenue paid to a company in Alderney in the Channel Islands. In normal circumstances, a conservation project would be established as a charity and a trading body or fundraising enterprise would be established as a whole owned subsidiary of the charity. There’s a lot of money at stake.

Most recently, Wildcat Haven has been seeking to become involved in the community acquisition of a Forestry Commission forest by Loch Arkaig.

Finally, a very significant development took place in early June 2015.

Highland Title’s bankers and corporate service providers in Guernsey gave notice of the termination of their services.

Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC was incorporated in 30 June 2015.


(1) Douglas Wilson in fact was not a Director of WHE at the time of publication of this Blog. He was a Director of Wildcat Enterprises CIC from 6 June 2015 to 21 August 2015 (when he resigned) and again from 21 October 2015 until 17 February 2016 when he again resigned. Guernesy does not have a very transparent, publicly accessible registry of companies being one of the most secretive jurisdictions in the world. Thius, in order to obtain information about when a Director was appointed or resigned, one has to contact the Registry with a specific request. As with my research for Blog 1 in September 2015, I phoned the Registry to find out if Douglas Wilson was still a Director of WHE and was informed that he was. Critically, as noted in the first sentence of this Blog, I had intended to publish it on Highland Titles Day, 10 February and had by then completed all of my research including this call to the Registry. For reasons I cannot recall (although I was very busy with the forthcoming Holyrood election and my partner was abroad in India) I did not publish the Blog until 24 February 2020 by which time Douglas WIlson had resigned as a Director of Highland Titles Ltd. It was thus an oversight on my part not to have checked the whole Blog for any factual matters that might have changed between 10 February 2016 and the date of publication.

(2) Douglas Wilson was in fact not a Director of Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland at the time of the publication of this Blog. Unlike the Guernsey Registry of Companies (see footnote (1) above), the Registry of Charities is publicly available online. I checked the entry for HTCTS during research for the Blog and noted that Douglas Wilson was recorded as a Director of HTCTS. I therefore relied upon this official source in good faith in writing the Blog. In fact, Douglas WIlson had resigned as a Director of HTCTS on 6 July 2015. This was not reported in the Guernsey Registry of charities until an update was published on 20 June 2016.


  1. Seems very devious and makes me curious about the activities of Wildcat Haven. Thanks for the update.

  2. Don’t their activities break advertising or trading standards?

  3. A hundred pounds ? Not even a down payment on the legal cost of establishing or conveying title. Wake up aspiring lairdlings and smell the scam.

  4. Questions:

    1. Emily O’Donoghue wrote that Highland Titles had been replaced as the CIC’s nominated body. Is the replacement known?

    2. She also wrote (on September 30th) with regard to the Ardnamurchan and Morvern havens that: “We have been highly successful in neutering feral cats in this area (we have neutered 50 in the last 7 months alone, leaving close to 500 square miles free of intact feral or pet cats) and are now ready to expand.”

    Wildcat Haven’s trap and release licence has expired and not been renewed (http://www.scottishwildcataction.org/resources/). When did this happen? Is the feral cat neutering programme currently halted? If they intend to expand, have new licence applications been submitted?

    3. One of the points of difference with the government-backed project is Paul O’Donoghue’s determination to protect only “genetically-pure wildcats”. In his own words:

    “Our goal is to establish populations of genetically-pure wildcats. We are determined not to settle for second best or to settle for a bunch of tabbies that bear a resemblance to wildcats. Protecting anything less than the pure Scottish wildcat will condemn the species to extinction.”

    But no genetically-pure wildcats have been identified in the last 30 years (http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/experts-fear-scottish-wildcat-may-be-extinct-1-3601814).

    Dr O’Donoghue himself told the BBC in May 2013: “Unless decisive action is taken, the wildcat could be declared extinct with the next 12 to 24 months [i.e. in 2014 or 2015].”

    Back in 2012, Dr O’Donoghue announced that he had developed a new genetic test that he hoped would be ready “by the end of the year”, so does he now, when even his own predicted extinction horizon has passed, have the DNA evidence to overturn the 30 year failure to find a genetically-pure wildcat?

    That would be an undoubted coup if his research passes peer review.

    • It would appear that the genetic test announced by Dr O’Donoghue in 2012 is not yet ready for use. According to a reply to a question on Facebook, this is the current state of affairs ….

      “Our genetic test is currently going through final verification against field samples”

      It would therefore seems to be that the Wildcat Haven boast to be “Saving the Scottish Wildcat Since 2008”, is in fact a little lacking in substance. It is the case that they cannot currently legitimately claim to have saved one single Scottish wildcat since the project began.

      They have not answered or commented on a question asking if their genetic testing method has been peer reviewed, rather obviously it won’t have been as it’s not finished!

      Interestingly, and remarkably coincidentally, their was a post on their Facebook page (one of them anyway, yes they have more than one), indicating there has been two recent sightings of promising wildcats near their land at Loch Loyne. They have so far declined to say who made these sighting so it can be seen as reliable, or what they intend to do if it proves to be a hybrid. According to SNH they neither have a license to trap wildcats or release neutered feral cats into the wild. So just how will they carry out their policy of neutering all found non pure Scottish wildcats should this one exist and prove to be a hybrid … one might wonder?

  5. I asked VW twice about their involvement – never received a response.

  6. It is interesting that Wildcat Haven intend to finance the purchase of 90% of Clunes Wood via the Arkaig Community Forest SCIO.

    ” We are primarily interested in the second block due to its remoteness. We propose that an agreement is drawn up whereby upon completion of the purchase by your SCIO, you transfer ownership of 90% of the forest back to Wildcat Haven. 10% is then retained by the SCIO.”

    This would seem to be directly against the principles of community forests. Have the local community who might be expected to back the purchase by ACF been informed that only 10% will be retained, with the rest going to a company registered in Cornwall / Wales?

    If Wildcat Haven want to purchase this land why have they not put in their own proposal, instead of using a backdoor method of having a SCIO essentially purchase it on their behalf?

    This purchase includes substantial and valuable areas of commercial forest. Who benefits when this is harvested?

    Is there any demonstrable evidence of any pure wildcats inhabiting this forest? If not why on earth do Wildcat Haven want to purchase it when they do not so far seem to have found a single wildcat pure enough to inhabit their existing reserves?

    It would appear from the blog post, that in the event of Wildcat Haven folding, Highland Titles’ opaque charity in the Channel Islands, which is shrouded in secrecy, will essentially inherit all their assets, including presumably Clunes Wood. Is this really the intention of the sell of off Forestry Commission land as community woodland, that it may fall to the ownership of a foreign company with a very questionable reputation, at a very attractive knock down price?

  7. I found myself looking for a “read more” link because it seems a bit odd just finish off with the bald statement “Highland Title’s bankers and corporate service providers in Guernsey gave notice of the termination of their services.” without more info.

    How did you discover HT had been terminated? Do we know why? Etc. Etc.??

  8. Alister J Clunas

    I had the following reply from Volkswagon.

    Subject: VW-2016/02-022909

    Dear Mr Clunas

    Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the link for the web page you attached within your email. Please accept my
    apologies for the delay in my response.

    We have been working through Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles for a significant amount of time with Paul who has the long term
    loan of a Volkswagen Amarok to support him in a number of conservation projects. I can confirm we have no other association with
    this particular project in Scotland.

    Should you require a further response, you may wish to contact Wildcat Haven directly who have more knowledge on this particular

    Thank you for contacting Volkswagen UK.

    Kind regards

    Jack J Thompson
    Customer Relations Advisor
    Volkswagen Customer Services Centre

    Tel: 0800 083 3914
    E-mail: customerservices@volkswagen.co.uk
    Internet: http://www.volkswagen.co.uk

    • Stuart Wilshaw

      Seems Volkswagens are now rarer than wildcats in Scotland, nice to see them finally break cover though.

  9. margaret brown

    Good to read interesting going-ons behind the scenes information that we Scots should know about regarding our Scottish heritage.
    Well done, and good luck with your enquiries,