BrewDog chief James Watt has been awarded £600,000 after he was scammed out of thousands of pounds by an ex-girlfriend who was secretly behind an online trolling campaign.
Mr Watt has spoken of his relief and said he was “overwhelmed by the support” following the court ruling in his favour.
He revealed the “considerable distress and anxiety” he suffered during the time which saw him conned out of £100,000.
Emili Ziem was ordered to repay him the money, plus £500,000 in expenses after Lord Brailsford ruled in his favour at Edinburgh’s Court of Session.
The judge stated that she conducted a scam which set up fake social media pages to spread damaging online rumours about the brewery boss.
Ms Ziem then conned him into paying £25,000 a time to unmask the “trolls”
Speaking on LinkedIn, Mr Watt said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support after I updated you all on the positive outcome of the court case.
“The support means so much, and sorry if I didn’t have time to respond to every message but every one is hugely appreciated. It’s a privilege to have such backing – thank you all.
“Now it’s time to get back to doing what we do best. Making others as passionate about great beer as we are, looking after our great people, helping our planet and hopefully making people laugh along the way.”
He claims Mr Watt and Ms Ziem first made contact in 2020 on Instagram and met on several occasions.
In May 2021, many of Mr Watt’s Instagram friends received direct messages about him from an account under the name Laura Keller, stating that he had “misled” women.
Some of the allegations accused him of criminality which he denied in court.
Mr Watt explained: “Ziem said she could help me identify the people responsible for spreading false and malicious lies about me via troll accounts and asked for payment to do so – I was desperate to stop this horrific abuse, so I paid up.
“What we now know, and the court has found, is that she was actually one of the perpetrators and was operating an extremely active troll account against me as part of a dedicated network looking to ‘take James down’ (her words).
After paying her four times, Watt grew suspicious and hired a cyber private detective who exposed Ms Ziem as being behind the accounts.
Campaign of abuse for years
On September 2 a judgement was issued by Lord Brailsford ruling in Mr Watt’s favour.
It stated: “That the contract or other arrangement by which the pursuer agreed to transfer to the defender the Bitcoin assets was induced by fraudulent misrepresentation made by the defender.”
The ruling continued that Ms Ziem must transfer the Bitcoin back to Mr Watt – who has promised to give it to charity.
Mr Watt said: “For the past 2 years I have been the subject of a vicious and relentless campaign of abuse, often by troll accounts posting and sharing appalling lies about me (often direct to family and friends) – lies that were then amplified all over the internet.
“It has taken a significant personal toll and been a massive distraction. I needed to do all I could to bring the campaign to an end.
“I want to say I didn’t go to court lightly, but I have been harassed, defrauded and defamed, and it has deeply affected me, my family and my business. I had no choice.”
Ms Ziem’s lawyer has been contacted for comment.