Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Jody Scheckter ends legal action over Laverstoke beer

Laverstoke Park Farm organic ale bottle
Image caption The logo of "Mr Laverstoke" was designed by Jody Scheckter's son

Ex-F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter has ended a legal fight against a watchdog which ruled beer sold at his farm broke rules on appealing to children.

Labels on bottles of organic ale, made at Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire, feature farmer "Mr Laverstoke".

The Portman Group advised shops to stop selling the product after a complaint.

Mr Scheckter has now given up fighting the decision but has vowed to continue selling his product and let stores decide whether to stock it or not.

He said he had spent £30,000 on legal action, including a failed bid for a judicial review.

The Portman Group investigated the product after receiving one complaint over the "childish" design.

Complaints are referred to the group's Independent Complaints Panel which, in this case, ruled the labelling "breached alcohol responsibility rules for using a drawing with particular appeal to young children to market alcoholic drinks".

The group promotes responsibility within the alcohol sector and its findings, although not legally binding, carry weight within the industry.

'Not an alcopop'

It initially set a deadline of 7 January for stores to consider stopping selling the product, which was extended indefinitely pending the legal action.

The group is expected to set a new deadline shortly.

But Mr Scheckter has vowed to continue selling the product unchanged, although he said he would "respect and accept" the position of stores that refused to sell it.

Image caption South African Jody Scheckter took up commercial organic farming many years after retiring from driving

The 63-year-old, who was crowned Formula 1 World Champion in 1979, said more than 170,000 bottles of his ale and lager have been sold without complaint since 2007, with many retailers now stocking the product.

In a statement, he added: "To change our ale and lager label was not a viable option for us.

"It is not just the cost of the change [tens of thousands of pounds] but the loss of our brand identity in having our iconic Mr Laverstoke taken off the bottle.

"Our product is not sold as an alcopop and I contest that teenagers would find the branding hip or trendy enough to purchase."

The Portman Group said it was still willing to work with Laverstoke to re-design the labels.

The farm uses the logo, which was designed by Mr Scheckter's son, on its range of products, including apple juice.

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