News / Canada

Labatt threatens to sue Montreal Gazette over Luka Magnotta photo

Apparently, having an alleged sex killer and snuff film maker using your product is bad for a company’s image.

Labatt Breweries has threatened legal action against the Montreal Gazette over a photo of Luka Magnotta, the man accused of murdering a Chinese engineering student, dismembering the body and mailing body parts to political parties. In the photo, Magnotta is seen sipping a bottle of Labatt Blue.

The picture, which was used in the Gazette’s online coverage but not in print, was taken from Magnotta’s Facebook page.

In a letter to the paper this week, a Labatt lawyer threatened legal action “if necessary” to get the photo taken down.

“As I am sure you can understand, this 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,” wrote Karyn Sullivan, Labatt’s associate general counsel.

The Gazette has no intention of taking the offending picture down, said lawyer Mark Bantey of Gowling, Lafleur, Henderson, which is acting for the paper.

“The photo is newsworthy. The Gazette is not in the business of altering photos because they might offend people, and there was certainly no legal requirement to take it down,” said Bantey in an interview.

Bantey suggested that Labatt’s threat of legal action could be bluster, but said the paper’s ready to fight any lawsuit.

“I would be surprised if Labatt pursues this further, but if they do, the Gazette will defend itself,” Bantey said.

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