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BrewDog’s libel case against PR firm over Trump stunt rejected

A High Court judge has dismissed BrewDog’s libel case against a PR firm after a press release, sent in 2018, promised free beer for supporters of the US President Donald Trump.

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Following the incident, the Scottish brewer cancelled a series of events it was planning in partnership with US brewery Scofflaw, after a press release was sent out by the latter’s PR agency.

The release, which was promoting the tie-up between the brewers and the sale of Scofflaw’s beer in BrewDog bars, called on the UK to get “beered up redneck style, completely free of charge”.

It added: “But there is a hook… you have to be a Trump supporter.”

Both Scofflaw and BrewDog said they had not approved the press release, which was sent out by PR firm Frank.

Taking legal action against the public relations company, BrewDog argued that it had suffered reputational damage after being linked with the president, a politician the brewery had previously publicly disagreed with.

Lawyers for Frank PR, however, argued that the tone of the press release was “light-hearted” and “played on Scofflaw’s redneck image”. They added that those who received the press release and free beer offer would know that it was intended as a “publicity gimmick”.

Mr Justice Nicol, who gave his judgement remotely yesterday (20 May), agreed. He said that the press release did not suggest BrewDog supported Trump.

He said: “The press release said little about the claimants other than that they had embarked on a partnership with Scofflaw and Scofflaw was promoting its beer by offering free beer to supporters of Donald Trump.

“I have found that the natural and ordinary meaning said nothing about the political philosophy of the claimants.

“For this reason, it is not necessary to consider whether, if the words complained of had associated the claimants with Donald Trump, that would have been defamatory at common law. The issue simply does not arise.

“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.”

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