Savills has had to scrap plans to sell the Ury estate near Stonehaven after it emerged the former owner, FM Developments, had granted 'an agricultural tenancy' and a 'right to buy' to one of its own directors, John Forbes, a farmer in the northeast.

The move is an acute embarrassment for the upmarket agency, which had already attracted interest from several consortia of developers.

The right-to-buy notice was registered with the Registers of Scotland and made apparent to Savills only on August 14, even though it is understood to have been effected and sanctioned by Bank of Scotland Corporate, FM’s lenders, in 2003. Thwarted bidders for the site said its mere existence makes the 15,000 acre estate unsellable.

Sunday Times