Manufacturers of Harris Tweed are distancing themselves from their Scottish heritage to avoid a backlash over the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber.
The makers of Harris Tweed normally trade on the cloth’s Highland image but believe that the Scottish government’s freeing of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi last month will impact sales in America.
Mark Hogarth, the director of Harris Tweed Hebrides, the biggest of three manufacturers allowed to produce the cloth on the Isle of Harris, has dropped the word “Scottish” from its US marketing campaign. Hogarth told The Times newspaper: “We are not going to promote ourselves as a Scottish company as we previously would have done.
“From everyone we spoke to in the US the feeling came back that a serious mistake had been made in releasing Megrahi. It wasn’t really seen as a British decision in the media there, but a Scottish one.
He added: “We have to de-Scottishify the image of the brand. Megrahi’s release has caused a real problem.”
The company said it plans to focus on the brand’s island heritage rather than its Scottish credentials before the launch of its fashion collection in New York next month.
The Scottish government said: “The strong relationship between Scotland and the United States will continue. We are confident world-renowned quality Scottish products like Harris Tweed will always find an eager market in the US as elswhere.”