Sir Cameron Mackintosh: The impresario, the land dispute, and a boat in flames

A pleasure boat belonging to the theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh has been destroyed in a fire that police are treating as suspicious.

The West End producer of musical hits including Cats and Les Misérables has been at the centre of a long-running dispute over land rights on his 14,000 acre Highland estate where the vessel caught fire.

This month, a Scottish Land Court found in the multi-millionaire's favour in a 13-year dispute over his plans to build holiday homes and a woodland project on 25 acres of land used for grazing by one of his elderly tenants on the vast Nevis estate east of Mallaig.

The Northern Constabulary confirmed that an investigation into the destruction of the Fastline Orkney on a jetty on Loch Morar was under way. The 19ft fiberglass vessel, valued at £30,000, was described as a "melted wreck" after the fire. Investigators said they were treating the blaze as suspicious.

It is the second time that Sir Cameron has been the victim of an unexplained fire on the estate, which he bought in 1994 after holidaying there as a child. The latest incident occurred close to the spot on the banks of the stunningly beautiful loch where his house was destroyed in a gas explosion 11 years ago.

Donald Cameron, the 87-year-old crofter who has been locked in a protracted legal battle with the musical producer, said he had no knowledge of the incident.

The former Commando veteran, whose family has farmed the disputed croft for more than century, said: "I know the boat well. He would use it himself now and again to go down Loch Morar. I may have been in dispute with the man, but I have not been burning his boat."

Despite upholding the application to go ahead with the new development, the Land Court also found no reason why Mr Cameron should not be allowed to exercise his right to buy his 700-acre croft holding.

The decision prompted Sir Cameron, who also has homes in London and Somerset, to call for reform of ancient crofting laws which he said in their current form allowed "a few self-interested crofters to frustrate the needs of local communities and properly preserve Scotland's outstandingly beautiful natural heritage".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there