Former F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter has ended a legal battle against a drinks industry watchdog which ruled that beer produced at his farm broke rules on appealing to children.
The Portman Group ruled that the packaging of Laverstoke Park Farm's organic ale, featuring a cartoon image of Mr Laverstoke, "breached alcohol responsibility rules for using drawing with particular appeal to young children to market alcoholic drinks".
The watchdog investigated the product after receiving one complaint about its "childish design".
Following a legal battle that cost Scheckter £30,000, he has now ended the fight against the Portman Group but has vowed to continue to sell the beer as changing its ale and lager label was "not a viable option".
"We have been selling Laverstoke Park beer and ale for over five years. During that time we have only had one single complaint, this was received by the Portman Group," Scheckter said.
"It is not just the cost of the change [it would cost the farm tens of thousands of pounds in rebranding] but the loss of our brand identity in having our iconic Mr Laverstoke taken off the bottle."
Scheckter went on to say that he disagreed with the ruling, adding he contested that teenagers would find the "branding hip or trendy enough to purchase" the product.
He added: "I have had to waste a huge amount of time and money on this whole mess and I am angry that a body with no legislative power can just come along and make arbitrary decisions that we, a small producer, are then left with the consequences of, in my opinion, ill-informed and unjustified views."
Following its investigation the Portman Group set a deadline of 7 January for stores to consider stopping the sale of the Laverstoke ale. The deadline was extended indefinitely pending legal action and is expected to be announced shortly.
"If the multiples stop selling our beer as a consequence, I respect and accept their position," Scheckter said.
The Portman Group, which is supported by the UK´s leading drinks producers, is concerned solely with the social responsibility issues surrounding alcohol. It has no legislative powers.