Sean 'Diddy' Combs sues Diageo over racism claims

US rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has sued Diageo over racism allegations and undermining the partnership with Combs Wines and Spirits.

In a New York court filing this week by Combs’ lawyers, the rapper and his representatives are seeking “billions of dollars in damages due to Diageo’s neglect and breaches”.

“In public, Diageo – a multi-billion dollar, publicly-traded spirits company – proclaims itself a leader in diversity and inclusion,” the filing began. “Unwilling to treat its Black partners equally – even when explicitly required by contract to do so”.

Combs has worked with Diageo for several years, most prominently representing Ciroc vodka before agreeing a 50/50 deal to buy tequila brand DeLeon in 2014.

The filing also said: “Rather than equal treatment, Diageo has treated Mr Combs and his brands worse than others because he is Black. Diageo has typecast Ciroc and DeLeon, apparently deciding they are ‘Black brands’ that should be targeted only to ‘urban’ consumers.

“He [Diageo’s president of reserve and new business Stephen Rust] also admitted that Mr Combs’ race was part of the reason Diageo limited the neighbourhoods where the Combs brands were distributed. If Mr Combs were ‘Martha Stewart’, Mr Rust said, things would be different.”

In a statement, a Diageo spokesperson said: “This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that.

“Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously. We categorically deny the allegations that have been made and will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum.”