Jody Scheckter, a former Formula One World Champion, has revealed that he is taking legal action after the alcohol industry watchdog ordered him to stop selling his ‘Laverstoke Park Farm’ ale as the labelling breaches rules on appealing to children.
Mr Scheckter owns and runs the Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire and produces an organic ale carrying the image of the farmer ‘Mr Laverstoke’.
The image is a child’s drawing of the farmer with a simple green grass and blue sky behind.
The industry-funded watchdog, the Portman Group, advised shops to stop selling the product on 7 January as it believes the packaging is appealing to children and therefore in breach of regulatory codes of practice.
Mr Scheckter believes that the sales ban is ‘unreasonable’ and instigated a judicial review that failed after High Court judge Mr Justice Walker said the application was ‘devoid of merit’.
Speaking on the matter, Mr Scheckter was adamant that he was in the right.
“I’m not going to change my label, I don’t see any reason for it. I’m going to fight them until the end,” he said.
The matter began when the Portman Group received a complaint from a consumer who felt that the childish design of the alcohol bottle could potentially make the ale appealing to children.
Although the Portman Group is an industry ‘self-regulatory’ body, whose decisions carry no legal force, they have considerable power in the drinks industry as the manufacturers themselves fund them.
Any complaint made against a manufacturer is forwarded to an Independent Complaints Panel that investigates the claim. In this case the panel ruled that the design of the label ‘breached responsibility rules’ as it used a drawing that would have a particular appeal to young children to market an alcoholic drink.
Mr Schekter has marketed the ale using the label, drawn by his son, since 2007. Since then he has sold 170,000 bottles without complaint and uses the same label to market other products from the farm which he says would be adversely affected if the label had to be changed.
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