Action warning

BrewDog boss in legal threat over BBC documentary

James Watt BrewDog
James Watt: claims BBC has obtained information illegally (pic: Terry Murden)

BrewDog boss James Watt is threatening legal action against the BBC ahead of a documentary about the brewer and pub chain’s management practices.

Mr Watt said the Disclosure programme, to be screened on Monday, is based on claims from a number of former employees who were sacked for various breaches of company discipline.

The documentary follows publication on social media last year of a letter from ex-staff claiming the Aberdeenshire company was built around a “cult of personality” and fostered a “toxic culture”.

Mr Watt claims information was stolen from his email account by hackers. He said: “The BBC sent us a list of 30 points they intend to attack us on. We are responding legally.”

He added: “I suffered a number of hacking attempts last year into my personal email accounts.

“As part of its investigations into BrewDog, the BBC appears to have acquired personal information that is entirely confidential.

“It’s clearly a concern that the BBC has been passed information that may well have come from that illegal hacking, or information that was otherwise illegally obtained. 

“We also know false information has been given to the BBC, which if broadcast, would be highly defamatory.

“BrewDog fully supports transparency and investigative journalism. However it must also protect itself from defamatory allegations and will not hesitate to do so.”

After the Disclosure team passed a list of allegations to BrewDog, Mr Watt responded by posting a list of his “greatest mistakes” on LinkedIn. It is not the first time he has done this, and customers have responded positively, saying it showed humility.

He claims “many” of those taking part in the documentary, The Truth About BrewDog, were sacked and are now taking their revenge.

He said: “Some of the people they have spoken to were dismissed for theft, poor performance, being intoxicated on shift, abusing others, severe health and safety breaches, endangering colleagues etc.”

He called on the BBC to be fair and make it clear how and why former team members left the firm, warning anyone taking part in the show might be sued.

“If something is said which the BBC or its source cannot prove is true and is damaging to us we would have a legal remedy against the BBC and the source.” 

A BBC spokesman said: “Our programme will be fair, balanced and accurate. 

“We have full confidence in our journalism and in the numerous people who have chosen to speak to us on the record during the production of the documentary.

“Mr Watt has repeatedly been asked to participate in the programme but has so far refused. The offer still stands.”

A spokesperson for the Unite trade union said Mr Watt was trying to intimidate former and current workers who were “taking a stand on systemic mistreatment will not be tolerated.”

He added: “We will represent all Unite members fully against efforts by a multimillionaire to silence them.”

Disclosure: The Truth About BrewDog is on BBC One Scotland on Monday 24 January at 7pm 



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