29 September 2023

Rapper Diddy won first round in his battle against Diageo over racism claims

USA | Sean “Diddy” Combs scored an early win in his legal battle with Diageo. A judge declined Diageo’s request to force the case into arbitration, which would have allowed the company to settle with Mr Combs out of court. The trial will be open to the public. Mr Combs plans to be present in court until the case is closed, according to Bloomberg.

The move means Mr Combs can proceed in uncovering evidence to support his claims that the company did not support his Diageo-backed liquor brands - Ciroc Vodka and DeLéon Tequila - in the same manner that it supported its partnerships with white celebrities.

“I’m fighting for fair and equal treatment for everyone,” Mr Combs told The New York Post on 8 September.

“While we are disappointed with today’s procedural decision, it is important to underscore that this is not a ruling on the merits of the claims, which we maintain are false and baseless,” a Diageo spokesperson said in a statement. “We are currently considering all legal options.”

The legal feud between Mr Combs and Diageo began in May when the music mogul alleged that his own business partner “sabotaged” his DeLeón tequila brand with shoddy packaging that “made the product look cheap,” according to the complaint.

Mr Combs’ filing also alleged that Diageo classified Ciroc and DeLeón as “urban”, “African American” and “black” brands, based on a “misguided belief that a black entrepreneur could only appeal to others who shared his skin colour.”

Meanwhile, Diageo “invested more than USD 1 billion to acquire and grow” George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila brand, the complaint pointed out.

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