BrewDog’s chief executive has been accused of trying to bully former staff who appear in a critical documentary that is expected to shine a light on the brewery’s workplace culture.
James Watt was forced to apologize last year after band Punks with Purpose sent an open letter alleging a ‘culture of fear’ and ‘cult of personality’ driving growth at all costs in society based in Aberdeenshire.
Some of the allegations will be revisited in a BBC documentary, Disclosure: The Truth About BrewDog, due to air Monday night.
But in posts on BrewDog’s Equity for Punks forum, Watt appeared to be trying to warn sources who gave evidence to the BBC that their identities might come to light.
In the forum, which is seen by investors and some staff, he said: ‘This is all very, very likely to end up in court’, adding that the BBC ‘will probably have told sources that their identity will remain anonymous.
However, he said anonymity “can never be guaranteed” and that a court could order the BBC to name former staff members who contributed to the programme.
“If anyone is affected in any way by this, it’s not too late to withdraw your consent,” he said.
Bryan Simpson, an industry organizer for Unite Hospitality, criticized Watt’s comments, saying, “Any attempts to intimidate current and former workers taking a stand on systemic abuse will not be tolerated.
“We will fully represent all Unite members against the efforts of a multi-millionaire to silence them.”
Watt claimed that false information had been given to the BBC which, if released, would be highly defamatory.
“BrewDog fully supports transparency and investigative journalism, but it must also protect itself from defamatory claims and will not shy away from doing so.”
In response to Punks with Purpose’s open letter, Watt promised an independent review, which recently reported its findings.
BrewDog has also hired former Asda chief executive Allan Leighton as its new non-executive chairman, in part to mentor Watt into becoming a better leader, following the claims.
The review found a “distinct perception gap” between former employees and current employees.
Leighton and Vice President Blythe Jack explained that the company has grown “so fast” that its processes and culture have not adapted to it, which explains the “lack of HR support, lack of resources, ill-prepared leadership at all levels and limited understanding of roles”. , responsibilities and career development goals”.
Watt also told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland it was an opportunity for the company to “pause, reflect and learn”, adding: “It’s fair to say we haven’t always been the best employer we could be and it’s fair to say that some people haven’t had a fantastic experience working in our company.
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