High Court dismisses BrewDog's libel case against Frank over 'rogue' release

A High Court judge has dismissed BrewDog’s libel claim against Frank PR in relation to a controversial press release that invited Trump supporters to drink at the brewer's bars.

BrewDog severed ties with US brewer Scofflaw after a 'rogue release' claimed BrewDog was inviting Trump supporters to its bars (Photo: Getty Images/supplied)
BrewDog severed ties with US brewer Scofflaw after a 'rogue release' claimed BrewDog was inviting Trump supporters to its bars (Photo: Getty Images/supplied)

BrewDog had sought damages, claiming the press release had damaged its brand’s reputation for equality and inclusion, as well as being a vocal critic of Trump policies.

Frank had been working for US craft beer company Scofflaw, and the release announced that BrewDog would be helping to launch Scofflaw products in the UK.

BrewDog immediately severed ties with Scofflaw, while the US brewer also moved quickly to condemn the press release, labelling the PR disaster as "absolute nonsense" and "just idiotic" misinformation. Frank apologised for the publication of the release and suspended an employee.

High Court judge Mr Justice Nichol ruled the press release did not state BrewDog’s political philosophy and that, while Trump was a “controversial” political figure, stating that someone supported him would not be enough to support a libel claim.

According to a report in the Evening Standard, the judge said that Trump still had supporters in England and that to “simply to say of someone that they were a supporter of Donald Trump (or his policies) would not arguably lower that person in the eyes of right-thinking people generally”.

The judge agreed to Frank PR’s application to strike out the claim.

Media House International executive chair Jack Irvine, who was brought in by Scofflaw in the wake of the 'rogue' release's publication, said that, while he has sympathy for BrewDog's claim, the "PR cock-up" damaged his client's push to launch its beer in the UK. 

On the ruling, Irvine said: "Does it mean a PR firm can issue any old bollocks about a client and then face no consequences? I think we should be told."

The ‘rogue’ release was widely condemned by industry peers when it surface in late 2018. However, one industry leader – Adam Mack, then UK CEO of W Communications – warned against a "punch-up in the BrewDog brewery".

“In reality, we’ve all been around the block enough to know that things aren’t always what they seem,” he said.

Frank declined to comment on the ruling. BrewDog has also been approached for comment.

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