Diageo expresses 'serious concern' over Paddy Jackson signing for London Irish
THE makers of Guinness have expressed “serious concern” over Irish rugby player Paddy Jackson signing for an English club that it sponsors.
Jackson (27) moved to France after his contract was cancelled by the IRFU in the fallout of his rape acquittal at a Belfast court last year.
Last month it was announced he had signed with newly-promoted Premiership team London Irish, but key sponsors will meet with the club this week to share their reservations over the move.
Diageo, the parent company of Guinness, has said it has "serious concern" over the signing.
In a statement the UK multinational said: "We are meeting the club this week to discuss our serious concerns regarding their decision, which is not consistent with our values."
The signing of Jackson was part of a major transfer push by the club following their promotion, with Irish international Sean O’Brien also signing for London Irish.
The Leinster player is currently under investigation by the IRFU into allegations that he urinated on a man in a Dublin pub last month.
However, when Diageo was asked by Independent.ie if they had concerns about O’Brien signing for London Irish given the probe into the allegations, the drinks' giant did not comment.
Paddy Jackson, along with then Ulster and Ireland team-mate Stuart Olding, was found not guilty of rape at a trial in Belfast in 2018.
The IRFU cancelled both players' contracts due to messages that they exchanged with two other defendants over text and social media, which came to light as part of the court case.
The concerns raised by a major sponsor of London Irish, Diageo, comes just days after another sponsor parted ways with the club.
Online shopping site Cash Converters pulled the plug on its deal with the club last week.
Replying to a tweet that referenced the messages from Paddy Jackson at the centre of the IRFU probe, Cash Converters confirmed they will not continue their association with London Irish.
"As a company, we are committed to the highest possible standards when it comes to our investments in any sponsorships and collaborations," read the tweet.
"As a result of a detailed and thorough review of our support for London Irish, we have decided to discontinue our association with the club."
London Irish has been contacted for comment.