Portman Group urges retailers not to stock Laverstroke Farm beer

The Portman Group has urged retailers not to stock Jody Scheckter’s Laverstoke Park Farm Ale and Lager after the former Formula 1 champion ignored the group’s ruling that the packaging must be altered.

The group’s Independent Complaint’s Panel decided the label featuring a cartoon farmer could appeal to under-18s.

But Scheckter branded the Portman Group an “arbitrary body” and refused to alter the packaging.

He added: “I have had to waste a huge amount of time and money on this whole mess and I am angry that a body with no legislative power can just come along and make arbitrary decisions that we, a small producer, are then left with the consequences of.”

The Portman Group planned to send out a bulletin to retailers asking them not to stock the product when it made the ruling in November, following a complaint from a member of the public.

Scheckter appealed, delaying the bulletin, but the High Court has now rejected the appeal.

In making the ruling Justice Walker said: “It is highly desirable that the packaging of alcoholic drinks should not particularly appeal to children.”

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “Before you start marketing alcohol in the UK, you must carry out due diligence checks to ensure that your products and packaging are acceptable and responsible - this saves significant time and costs in the long run.

“There has been a clear ruling by an experienced High Court judge rejecting Laverstoke’s challenge to the Independent Complaints Panel’s decision, describing it as ‘devoid of merit’. The judge also recognised the reasoning of the Panel in making its decision as ‘impeccable’.

“Unlike many responsible producers, Mr Scheckter refuses to work with the Portman Group’s free advisory service to ensure Laverstoke’s labels comply with the rules. The advisory service will continue to be available to him. The Portman Group Code is supported by over 140 organisations including all the major retailers who have given their commitment to abide by the rulings of the Independent Complaints Panel.  They have been requested not to place orders for the products in their current packaging after May 17, 2013.”

Scheckter said: “If the multiples stop selling our beer as a consequence, I respect and accept their position.”

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