FORMER Formula One champion Jody Scheckter fears an alcohol watchdog will wipe out the beer side of his organic business.

Mr Scheckter, who owns Laverstoke Park Farm, near Overton, has been in a legal battle with watchdog The Portman Group because of the labelling of his lager and ale.

The group responded to a single complaint that the labels on the bottles, which feature ‘Mr Laverstoke’ drawn by Mr Scheckter’s son when he was young, appealed to children.

The watchdog has reissued a bulletin to retailers, asking them not to stock Mr Scheckter’s ale and lager in its current packaging from May 17. The bulletin was suspended in December pending Mr Scheckter’s action in the High Court.

The Portman Group issued a statement saying: “Unlike many responsible producers, Mr Scheckter refuses to work with the Portman Group’s free advisory service.”

Since October last year, Mr Scheckter has spent £30,000 on legal fees, trying to fight the retail alert bulletin.

He released a statement to say he has given up the fight after he lost an appeal. He said to repackage the ale and lager would cost more than £50,000, and added: “The brand has taken me over 10 years to establish and would cost millions to re-launch, so we have no option to leave it as it is and probably put our beer out of business.”

He said: “What the Portman Group has done has nothing to do with responsible drinking and in particular under 18-year-olds drinking. They admit our beer does not attract teen-agers and their hypothesis that a four-year-old could possibly pick up an open bottle of beer from the kitchen table is absurd – like we have a problem with four-year-olds drinking in the UK – it is ridiculous.”

Laverstoke Park Farm produces around 150,000 bottles of beer each year.