Ofcom rejects BrewDog complaint over BBC documentary

By Shwetali Sapte

- Last updated on GMT

Ofcom rejects BrewDog complaint over BBC documentary

Related tags Brewdog James watt Ofcom Staff

Ofcom has rejected a complaint made by BrewDog alleging unfair treatment and infringement of privacy in a BBC documentary.

The multinational brewer and pub operator claimed Disclosure: The Truth about BrewDog​, broadcast in January 2022​, disclosed information about CEO James Watt’s personal investments and 'unfairly presented' allegations relating to personal misconduct by Watt.

However, Ofcom has dismissed the complaint, saying in a written decision the facts were not presented, disregarded, or omitted by the documentary in an unfair manner.

The broadcasting watchdog said BrewDog has been given an opportunity to respond to allegations made in the documentary, and that the response was fairly reflected in the broadcast.

It further said Watt’s right to privacy did not outweigh BBC’s right to freedom of expression and the public interest in the material in the programme, adding there was no unwarranted infringement of privacy.

The documentary alleged that Watt had bought £500,000 worth of shares in Heineken and invested £2m in a hedge fund in the Cayman Islands.

It also accused him of inappropriate behaviour towards women and abuse of power in the workplace.

Watts declined to be interviewed for the documentary, but his lawyer denied any claims of inappropriate behaviour. He subsequently issued a statement following its broadcast​ in which he said he 'utterly refuted' the characterisation of him.

In a statement made following Ofcom's ruling, a BrewDog spokesperson said: “Ofcom’s ruling concerns the BBC’s reporting processes, not the ‘truth’ it reported. The regulator states itself that its role was not to determine the 'factual accuracy' of the programme. The BBC’s documentary contains numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations, so we disagree with Ofcom’s findings that the BBC took 'reasonable care'.

“The BBC still needs to explain why it lied about using a proven fraudster as a key source, before being forced to admit the truth when presented with evidence to the contrary.

“Since this programme aired, BrewDog has created nearly 1000 jobs, opened many bars in some of the toughest trading conditions ever and been included in The Sunday Times​ Best Places to Work as well as named a Top Employer by the Top Employer Institute.”

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