BrewDog founder says court cases under way

BrewDog co-founders Martin Dickie (left) and James Watt

James Watt, co-founder of Aberdeenshire-based craft brewing firm BrewDog, has hit back in a LinkedIn posting at the most recent allegations against his company.

In the posting, Watt alleged he has been “subject to a 2 year-long coordinated criminal campaign of online harassment, defamation, blackmail, significant fraud, and malicious communications.”

Watt said in the posting that “a criminal prosecution for serious fraud and malicious communications is now under way in a court in London” and that “there are related civil proceedings underway in The Court of Session in Scotland.”

Last June, BrewDog apologised after allegations were made in an open letter by a group of former employees called “Punks With Purpose” (PwP) that the company operates in a “culture of fear.”

Watt said the letter was “upsetting” but that he would not “contradict or contest” its contents — and instead he would “listen, learn and act.”

Last September, BrewDog hired former Asda chief executive Allan Leighton as non-executive chairman to mentor CEO Watt as the firm prepares to float on the stock exchange and attempts to repair its reputation.

Watt also said in his LinkedIn post that “there is a separate police complaint against a PwP founder for blackmail.”

Watt alleged “there are a handful of people on a criminal mission to bring us down.”

Watt’s full posting reads: “Some of you will have seen the story in The Guardian today. These stories and the attacks on myself and the business are of course a distraction.

“Despite that, we remain hugely committed and excited about the opportunities ahead of us.

“I am absolutely passionate about making sure we are the best employer we possibly can be and to that end we are making some significant announcements shortly.

“However, you all deserve a bit more of an explanation as to what is actually going on here.

“I regret having to comment on this publicly, but it’s clear that the attacks on us are not going to stop.

“I have been subject to a 2 year-long coordinated criminal campaign of online harassment, defamation, blackmail, significant fraud, and malicious communications.

“This campaign began when appalling lies about me were sent by third parties, operating through troll accounts, to a large number of my social media connections.

“In their own words they have been working together on ‘a plot to bring James down’.

“We subsequently engaged the services of digital investigative specialists to seek to identify the source of these damaging and false allegations and identify the individuals who defrauded me.

“As a direct result of those actions, and following a court order obtained from the High Court based on written evidence, we were able to identify individuals involved.

“I have a duty to act in the best interests of the company, our employees and investors: this duty extends to protecting the business from malicious individuals who wish to cause us harm.

“The objective of our enquiries was to understand the extent of the campaign against us and to take appropriate legal action to bring it to an end.

“A criminal prosecution for serious fraud and malicious communications is now under way in a court in London.

“There are related civil proceedings underway in The Court of Session in Scotland.

“Furthermore, there is a separate police complaint against a PwP founder for blackmail.

“Given that there are criminal proceedings, I am obviously not allowed to comment further.

“Criticism of our business is fine and often warranted – I fully accept that.

“Colluding in illegal activity to damage me or the business is not.

“Whilst the last few months have been tough, I’ve never been more motivated to support and lead the continued development of this amazing business and our fantastic people.

“This was never about money for myself or Martin.

“Ever.

“We could have cashed out years ago, never bought the Lost Forest, never signed off a further £70m+ investment this year alone.

“It’s about doing something different and building a business we are proud of and I’m sorry that there are a handful of people on a criminal mission to bring us down.

“However, I remain excited about what we can build as a team over the remainder of 2022 and beyond.

“Hold Fast, James.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.