BrewDog files complaint with BBC and Ofcom over ‘Axe Work’ documentary

BrewDog’s chief executive has revealed he is making a formal complaint to the BBC and Ofcom over the “dozens of inaccuracies and misrepresentations” in his recent documentary Disclosure.

In a LinkedIn post, James Watt spoke of a ‘difficult fortnight’ after the program was released, which followed allegations of a toxic work culture at Ellon’s brewer made by around 300 former and current employees in an open letter. last summer.

It also contained allegations from former BrewDog USA employees, who said Watt’s behavior meant female bartenders were told how to avoid unwanted attention from him, saying his conduct made them feel “helpless”.

The documentary also suggested he took women on private late-night brewery tours, leaving them feeling uncomfortable.

He wrote: “We can’t just remain silent and allow these allegations to go unchallenged – that’s not BrewDog’s way.

“We knew full well that the documentary would never be anything other than the ‘malicious ax job’ our legal counsel described it.

“Watching him, alone, in my office was wild, he just wasn’t the BrewDog I know and love. He was a malicious caricature, based largely on untruths – I completely refute the characterization from me too.

Watt claimed the charges were “soul destroying” and revealed his concerns about the impact they had on his employees and family.

“The abuse our social media and customer service teams have been subjected to is nothing short of extraordinary – I apologize to them and thank them for their stoicism in the face of this storm.”

Watt conceded he wasn’t perfect and neither was BrewDog, but he criticized the BBC for acting as “judge, jury and executioner”, saying his documentary was “sensational”.

Watt specifically reacted to allegations about taking women on brewery tours, saying, “I often take friends, colleagues, business partners and, yes, sometimes dates, on brewery tours. breweries.

“In Columbus, we designed and built from scratch one of the most beautiful breweries in the world – that’s something I’m very proud of and love to share with as many people as possible – but here I was getting ripped on national TV for dating and doing tours of the brewery we built.

On the allegation of making people feel uncomfortable, Watt revealed his regret, writing: “It was never my intention and the last thing I would want – I’m trying to be more aware of the impact I have on our team.

“Additionally, I’ve been in touch with the entire team to let them know if anyone wants to speak to me directly about how I can have a more positive impact on our business.”

Complaints from former workers last summer led BrewDog to launch an independent investigation by human resources consultancy Wiser, as well as an independently run anonymous hotline, a group of employee representatives , a new labor code and the appointment of a new independent president.

However, the group Punks With Purpose who wrote the open letter last year launched their own complaints reporting platform earlier this week.

Watt said: “With feedback from our teams, we now have a clear roadmap for further improvements in the future – I have decided that we will repeat this exercise to ensure we deliver on our promises and can show real progress.”

He added that he made himself available for any staff member to speak to him about the documentary or other concerns.

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