The owners of independent brewery BrewDog were prevented from picking up an industry award by global drinks giant Diageo.
Diageo has now apologised "unreservedly" for what they have called a "serious misjudgement" by staff at the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) awards at the weekend.
The Fraserburgh company were hotly-tipped to be crowned Bar Operator of the Year and were shocked when another company was announced as the winner.
The "winning" firm refused to accept the trophy because it had the word "BrewDog" engraved on it.
BrewDog cofounder James Watt says he was told by BII chairman Kenny Mitchell that the award's main sponsors Diageo banned them from handing the award over to BrewDog.
Diageo apparently threatened to pull their sponsorship on all future BII events if BrewDog was handed the award.
Mr Mitchell reportedly told the BrewDog boss that BII was "ashamed and embarrassed" about the affair, and has promised to "put things right".
Mr Watt said: "Diageo's actions are shameless, misguided and embarrassing.
"This is clear evidence of the dirty tricks used by global corporations to derail young competitors they fear.
"As a sponsor, Diageo had no right to interfere with the independent judging process, but they abused their position to make a small and stupid statement like this one."
A Diageo spokesman said: "There was a serious misjudgement by Diageo staff at the awards dinner on Sunday evening in relation to the Bar Operator of the Year award, which does not reflect in anyway Diageo’s corporate values and behaviour.
"We would like to apologise unreservedly to BrewDog and to the British Institute of Innkeeping for this error of judgement and we will be contacting both organisations imminently to express our regret for this unfortunate incident."
Nobody from BII has been available to comment.
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