The Diary of a CEO

8 August 2022
A response to James Watt’s interview with Steven Bartlett (4 July)

Just over a month ago, James Watt featured on Steven Bartlett’s podcast, The Diary of a CEO. The audience were promised “The Untold Story of BrewDog“.

The first half an hour or so of the podcast consists of a well-worn rendition of BrewDog’s Greatest Hits, featuring such classics as Lying to the Bank, Meeting Michael Jackson (No Not That One), and Look Out Below feat. The Taxidermied Cats. The remainder of the podcast features some brand new lies and exaggerations, including a reworking of The Tale of the Bar Operator of the Year Awards (this time James defies time and space by being “halfway up to the stage” to collect a gong at a ceremony he didn’t actually attend) as well as the firm assertion that James and Martin never claimed to have legally changed their names by deed poll, despite the BrewDog blog post (that’s still live right now) saying otherwise:

“As of the 4th of October 2016, our two co-founders, James and Martin have both have legally changed their names to ‘Elvis’ by deed poll.”

BrewDog Blog, 6th Oct 2016

This casual twisting of the truth is important; in this instance it doesn’t hurt anyone, but it demonstrates a casual relationship with reality that is evident throughout the more serious allegations we’d now like to address.

We have transcribed a passage from the podcast below, which alludes to serious allegations of criminal wrongdoing on the part of members of Punks With Purpose. We have addressed these claims in the past, and yet here we are once again, trying to pick apart spurious accusations of crime. 

Bartlett mentions “Punks With Purpose” by name, although he frames PWP as the full group of employees who composed and signed the open letter.

JW: “Some of the feedback was disingenuous.”

JW: “For me there’s the difference between, ok this is genuine feedback because people had a valid concern and because people want to help make us a better business, which – fully accept, want to listen to that feedback all day long, with us there’s been unfortunately two things mixed together. So, there’s been the valid feedback which we listened to, which we accept, which we want become (sic) a better business, there’s also been people who have been on a mission to inflict as much damage as they can on me, and on the business, with mistruths, with misrepresentations, with dishonest statements and dishonest claims and I know a lot of these individuals, and unfortunately I can’t say too much at the moment cos there’s two ongoing court cases but there’s been a large amount of criminality involved in this as well, and hopefully one day I’m able to speak about it but some of the things that’s happened in the background are completely shocking, it’s almost like a movie plot. So you’ve got the kinda two things mixed up in our case, you’ve got valid feedback from ex-employees about, ok you could have done better here, you didn’t invest enough in HR, these things were difficult that we fully hear. On the other side you’ve got people, taking advantage of that moment just to try and inflict damage on me and the company for, for whatever reason we’ve always had haters as a business as well, perhaps more than any other business,  and always felt to have people hate you, you need to be successful doing something that you love.”

JW suggests that jealousy has a part to play in the motivation behind the open letter: “In the UK I think it’s maybe a bit more jealous of success…”

We would like to be absolutely crystal clear about this – at no point have any current (or founding) member of Punks With Purpose (i.e the group responsible for the publication of the open letter, the upkeep of this website, and the running of the associated Twitter and Instagram accounts) been involved in any crime against BrewDog or James Watt, nor have we received any communications from their lawyers or the police that suggest they are pursuing action.

There are two court cases we know of; both involve James Watt taking action against one other individual, who has never been an employee of BrewDog nor a member of PWP. More detail on these court cases can be found online, including an excellent summary on Good Beer Hunting.

If there are any individuals who have spoken out against BrewDog or James who have been accused of criminal wrongdoing, we are unaware of this and thus our actions should not be conflated with theirs.

At this stage, we simply cannot fathom why the media continue to take a proven liar at his word. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and yet supposedly responsible outlets such as Bartlett’s continue to provide a platform for these fabrications and exaggerations without giving them any critical consideration whatsoever.

We had hoped to be given the chance to rebut these allegations on The Diary of a CEO, as well as to discuss the other steps – both good and bad – taken by James and BrewDog since the publication of the open letter. Sadly, despite endlessly preaching positivity on his platforms, Bartlett shows no sign of allowing us the chance to respond. Disappointingly, he has chosen to instead protect his peer – a powerful millionaire CEO with a large following on social media. We have come to the conclusion that Steven Bartlett has no intention of ever engaging with us, and is comfortable with leaving these lies on the record in his podcast. Although we are moving on, we cannot understate how disappointed we are.

We hope that in time, this will change.