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Diageo hits back against Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ racism claims

Diageo has announced that it is ending its business relationship with Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs after the rapper accused the drinks giant of neglecting his brands due to his race.

The musician and entrepreneur’s company, Combs Wine and Spirits, which is behind the DeLeón Tequila and Ciroc French vodka brands, filed legal action to New York’s Supreme Court against Diageo a month ago.

It accused Diageo of wrongly “cloaking itself in the language of diversity and equality”, and claimed that the company had “proven unwilling to treat its Black partners equally— even when explicitly required by contract to do so”.

At the time, Diageo noted that it was only a “business dispute” and reiterated its “steadfast commitment to diversity”.

Now, the company has given a fuller statement that elaborates on where things went wrong in its dealings with the Bad Boy for Life rapper: “We are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast a business dispute as anything other than that and chosen to damage a productive and valued partnership. Mr. Combs’ bad-faith actions have clearly breached his contracts and left us no choice but to move to dismiss his baseless complaint and end our business relationship. Mr. Combs has repeatedly undermined our partnerships and threatened to publicly defame Diageo if we did not meet his unreasonable financial demands.”

“Diageo believes strongly in the Cirôc and DeLeón brand and remains committed to their success,” the statement continued, “which is why we tried for years to salvage the broken relationship with Mr. Combs. We funded the purchase of DeLeón for the joint venture and proceeded to invest more than US$100 million to grow the brand.”

“Despite having made nearly a billion dollars over the course of our 15-year relationship, Mr. Combs contributed a total of US$1,000 and refused to honour his commitments,” it concluded.

But though the professional relationship has officially ceased between the two parties, the war of words rumbles on.

db contacted Combs Wine and Spirits to ask for its response to the statement and was sent the following from Combs’ attorney, John C. Hueston: “Diageo attempting to end its deals with Mr. Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism. It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination.

“Over the years, he has repeatedly raised concerns as senior executives uttered racially insensitive comments and made biased decisions based on that point of view. Diageo even acknowledged the problem by agreeing in his contract to treat DeLeón the same way it treated their other tequila brands. He brought the lawsuit to force them to live up to that contract, and instead they respond by trying to get rid of him. This lawsuit and Mr. Combs are not going away.”

This isn’t the only feud concerning celebrity drinks brands in the news at present…

50 Cent’s Cognac and Rémy Martin settle bottle dispute

Pitt & Jolie’s Miraval dispute gets the Vanity Fair treatment

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