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Brewdog boss cancels ‘David vs Goliath’ talk after ‘culture of fear claims

A Brewdog beer boss has cancelled a talk about ‘David beating Goliath’ after staff claims of a ‘culture of fear’ at the Scots brewer.

David McDowall was due to speak at Aberdeen’s first TEDx event but has withdrawn.

He was booked to speak at the July 31 event about the north-east firm’s growth into an international giant.

But responding to a tweet questioning McDowall being on the bill, event organisers tweeted: “Dave McDowall, President & COO of Brewdog, has withdrawn as a speaker at TEDxAberdeen.

“In light of allegations raised by open letter from ex-employees , Dave is focusing his energies with his team at this time.”

Earlier this month the Ellon-based company was rocked by a series of allegations about the working practices there.

In a blistering open letter posted on social media, newly-formed group called ‘Punks with Purpose’ slammed the Scots beer giant.

The letter, signed by 61 former staff and backed by more than 45 others, tells co founder James Watt: “It is with you that the responsibility for this rotten culture lies.”

The group claim staff in numerous departments felt “forced out” of their jobs because of an “unmanageable” and “damaging” working culture, which bred “toxic attitudes” towards junior staff.

Writing on LinkedIn, the company co-founder apologised to staff for the “pain” they have been caused.

“I am ultimately responsible for the culture. The letter that ex-colleagues wrote to us is 100% my fault,” he said.

“I can’t possibly have all the answers at the moment but my commitment to our team is that I am going to throw my heart and soul into working with them to fix these issues.”

Brewdog responded to the allegations at the time, with a statement from Watt saying: “At BrewDog our people are our main priority, which is why the open letter we saw on Twitter was so upsetting, but so important. Our focus now is not on contradicting or contesting the details of that letter, but to listen, learn and act.

“At BrewDog we are focussed on building the best business we can. We have always tried to do the best by our team — we do have many thousands of employees with positive stories to tell as a result. But the tweet we saw last night proves that on many occasions we haven’t got it right.

“We are committed to doing better, not just as a reaction to this, but always; and we are going to reach out to our entire team past and present to learn more. But most of all, right now, we are sorry.

“It’s hard to hear those comments, but it must have been harder to say them.

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“We appreciate that and we will endeavour to honour that effort and courage with the real change it deserves.

“We aren’t going to make excuses, we’re going to take action. From our commitment to sustainability to our passion for beer, BrewDog has always been defined by taking responsibility and continually improving. This is no exception.”

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