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The barrister representing the claimants in a High Court case brought against Reggae Reggae sauce entrepreneur Levi Roots has branded him a “barefaced liar”.
5KBW Chambers’ Ian Glen QC made the statement about the Jamaican-born businessman in a £600,000 breach of confidence and breach of contract case being brought by Roots’ former best friend Tony Bailey and financial adviser Sylvester Williams.
Bailey claims that Roots stole the recipe for the sauce from him and cut him out of an agreement to launch the sauce together when he appeared on BBC television programme Dragon’s Den alone.
Appearing on the show in 2007, Roots allegedly claimed that the recipe was handed down by his grandmother. He secured a £50,000 investment and, since then, has gone on to make millions from the condiment he purported to be the taste of the Notting Hill Carnival for over a decade.
Roots ran a jerk chicken stall with Bailey at the annual celebration of West Indian culture for 15 years but denies having stolen the ‘secret formula’. He claims it originated from a basic recipe being used at Bailey’s Brixton-based Caribbean restaurant.
However, giving evidence, a mutual friend of the pair said that Roots was a salesman who had no idea how to make the sauce until Bailey showed him.
At the hearing Glen read aloud from a label on a bottle of Reggae Reggae sauce. “It says ’Our family in Jamaica have been blending home-made jerk sauce since way back, and for years it’s been the taste of London’s Notting Hill Carnival’. Is that true?,” he said.
Roots replied: “No, that’s not true. It’s a marketing ploy.”
Roots allegedly confessed to having concocted the story on Dragons’ Den as a way of promoting the product, but claims the stall was only successful because it was “a Levi Roots stall”.
He said his business agreement with Bailey had terminated before he went on the show and insisted that Bailey and Williams have no rights to the business.
Earlier this year, Roots published a business book giving practical advice on launching a successful business as well as 10 essential rules that Roots believes should underpin any entrepreneurial value.
Glen was instructed by Simons Muirhead & Burton lawyer Gordon Clough for Bailey and Williams.
11 South Square Chambers’ Mark Vanhegan was instructed to act for Roots by EMW partner Mark Rondel.
The case continues and a judgment is expected next Thursday (24 November).