MONTREAL, QC – According to reports from The Globe & Mail , the Toronto Star and OpenFile, Labatt Breweries of Canada has threatened legal action against the Montreal Gazette over a photo posted on the newspaper’s website that features accused murderer Luka Magnotta posing with a bottle of Labatt Blue.
The photo, which was obtained from Magnotta’s Facebook page, was used by a number of media outlets when the manhunt for Magnotta started last week. While the Gazette did not publish the photo in its print edition, it was used it as part of the online version of an article posted on May 31st, and remains there as of today (June 5th).
In a letter to the Gazette, Labatt’s general associate counsel Karyn Sullivan states that the “image is highly denigrating to our brand, and we are disturbed that this image remains on your site despite repeated requests and the many images available of this person.” The letter also indicates that Labatt intends to pursue “legal avenues if required” to have the photo removed.
The Gazette’s executive editor Raymond Brassard told the Globe & Mail that “there is no connection made between the brand and the suspect in the accompanying caption, headline or news story,” and that the paper has no intention of removing or replacing the photo.
UPDATE 1: In the wake of this media coverage, the hashtag #NewLabattCampaign is now trending on Twitter, with hundreds of people posting joke slogans for Labatt that reference murder and dismemberment. Labatt has yet to release a statement on this new development.
UPDATE 2: Late on Tuesday afternoon, Charlie Angelakos, vice president of corporate affairs at Labatt, released the following statement via email: “Our goal was simply to protect our brand. Given the serious nature of the underlying story, we decided it was important to request that an alternate photo be used. Once the Gazette explained their position, we promptly thanked them for their response, dropped the matter and we will not be following up further. We accept the Gazette’s position.”