Uproar over Rankin's 'roughest town' jibe

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The crime writer Ian Rankin has angered the law-abiding people of Hamilton in Lanarkshire by calling it "one of the roughest towns in the world".

Rankin was speaking in the Canadian town of Hamilton, Ontario, during a tour of North America to promote his latest Inspector Rebus book, Fleshmarket Close. In a newspaper interview, he said: "If it is anything like Hamilton in Scotland I'm in for a real treat. Hamilton in Scotland is one of the roughest towns in the world."

The remarks by Rankin, who was born in Fife but now lives in Edinburgh, were picked up in Scotland, where he was described as ignorant. "It is a pity that the remarks Mr Rankin makes in interviews are not as good as his books," said Tom McCabe, Finance Minister and MSP for Hamilton. "Over the past few years, Hamilton has reinvented itself and our town, certainly in the town centre, is one of the most modern in west-central Scotland."

Tommy Gilmour, an independent Hamilton councillor and former teacher, said: "Hamilton is no longer a place where people play tig with hatchets. I am quite staggered that someone should make such a sweeping statement like this. It is incredibly shocking and very ill-informed.

"I wouldn't hold Hamilton up as some sort of utopia but to say that it is the roughest place in the world is over the top."