Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Jody Scheckter takes legal action over Laverstoke beer

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

Ex-F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter is pursuing legal action after a watchdog 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 from 7 January.

But that deadline has been extended indefinitely after Mr Scheckter started legal action, which has so far included a failed bid for a judicial review.

High Court judge Mr Justice Walker said the application was "devoid of merit".

But Mr Scheckter, who has accused the Portman Group of being "arrogant" and "unreasonable", is now pursuing other legal avenues.

He said if he thought the labelling was going to encourage children to drink his ale and lager he would stop selling it immediately.

One complaint

He added: "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."

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

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

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

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".

A spokesman for the panel said: "We regret that Mr Scheckter decided to commence legal proceedings and has sought to persist with them despite an unequivocal ruling from an experienced judge.

Apple juice

"[We] would again reiterate [our] desire that Laverstoke work with the Portman Group advisory service to re-design their labels without troubling the court further."

Mr Scheckter, 62, 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.

He said the financial implications for his small company, based near Basingstoke, to change the product would be huge.

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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