Ofcom rejects BrewDog complaint against BBC

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Not upheld: OFCOM rejects BrewDog's complaint against BBC doc (Pictured: BrewDog’s Las Vegas rooftop bar)
Not upheld: OFCOM rejects BrewDog's complaint against BBC doc (Pictured: BrewDog’s Las Vegas rooftop bar)

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BrewDog’s complaint against a BBC documentary that highlighted alleged inappropriate behaviour from its chief executive has not been upheld by the communications regulator.

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) rejected the Scottish brewer and pub operators’ complaint against the documentary on Tuesday 20 February.

BrewDog claimed it had been “unfairly” represented in the programme, which aired in January 2022.

Named The Truth About BrewDog,​ the BBC 1 Scotland Disclosure ​documentary examined the firms marketing strategy, corporate cultural and commercial practices.

Reasonable expectation 

The investigation included accounts from former BrewDog employees, who also spoke about experiences of alleged personal misconduct by the Ellon-based firms CEO, James Watt, and his personal investments.

BrewDog lodged a complaint shortly after the documentary aired, asserting the brand and Watt had been treated “unfairly” or “unjustly” and that the CEO’s privacy was “unwarrantably infringed” upon.

However, Ofcom concluded the material facts were not “presented, disregarded or omitted” in a way that was unfair to the complainants”.

In addition, the regulator stated BrewDog had been given an “appropriate and timely opportunity” to respond to the allegations made and their response was “reflected fairly”.

Ofcom added while Watt had a “reasonable expectation” of privacy with regards to the obtaining and subsequent broadcasting of his personal investments, this did not “outweigh” the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and public interest regarding the material.

Malicious caricature

In February 2022, Watt shard his “concerns” on social media regarding the impact of the documentary on the firms “fantastic people”.

The post said: “We knew full well the documentary was never going to be anything other than the ‘malicious hatchet job’ our legal counsel described it as.

“Watching it alone, in my office was savage. This was simply not the BrewDog I know and love.

“It was a malicious caricature, based largely on untruths. I utterly refute the characterisation of me as well.”

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