Abbot says wine can’t be blamed

Abbot David Charlesworth
Abbot David Charlesworth

Controversial fortified wine brand Buckfast isn’t to blame for thousands of crimes across Scotland, according to Abbot David Charlesworth.

In what is said to be his first interview about the wine the cleric, who heads Buckfast Abbey in Devon, says it is “not made to be abused”.

He says he is annoyed that problems caused by social deprivation are, in his view, being laid at his doorstep.

The abbot’s defence contradicts a constant tide of criticism over many years from politicians including former First Minister of Scotland, and Motherwell MSP Jack McConnell, who said the drink was “a badge of pride amongst those who are involved in antisocial behaviour.”

Critics have also included the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Dr Robert Gillies, who sharply criticised the Buckfast monks for being involved with a product “that contributes to the misery of the nation”.

Owning company J Chandler & Co has regularly shown it is prepared to take robust legal action to secure what it considers to be its trading rights.

The company regularly argues if Buckfast didn’t exist anti-social drinkers would merely choose another brand.

Abbot Charlesworth has restated this view, arguing that if the drink’s strength were an issue whisky should be banned.

A recent BBC report suggests that Buckfast was mentioned in just under 6.496 crime reports between 2010 and 2012.

The company has argued that it is the only drink singled out for brand identification, while others are simply reported as generic alcohol.