Levi Roots has confessed that he lied on Dragons’ Den when he said the recipe for Reggae Reggae sauce was handed down by his grandmother.
Roots also admitted the claim that the sauce had been the taste of the Notting Hill carnival for 15 years was “a marketing ploy”.
Roots made the confession in the High Court, where he is being sued by his former business partner Tony Bailey and financial advisor Sylvester Williams for more than £600,000. They claim that Roots cut them out of an agreement to launch the sauce together while chef Bailey also claims it was his recipe that he and Roots used when they ran a jerk chicken stall at the Notting Hill Carnival.
At the hearing Ian Glen QC, acting for the claimants 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?”
Roots replied: “No, that’s not true. It’s a marketing ploy.”
He also admitted his claim on the BBC show that he had been successfully selling Reggae Reggae sauce for 15 years was untrue, describing that also as a “marketing ploy”. Roots said the reference was intended to reflect his connection with the carnival. Singer Roots also claimed the jerk chicken stall was successful not because of the sauce, but because it was “a Levi Roots stall”.
Roots denies the claims of breach of contract and breach of confidence. He said his business agreement with Williams had terminated before he went on the show, and insisted the pay have no rights to the business.
Roots secured a £50,000 investment for 40% of his business from dragons Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh in 2007. Reggae Reggae has since grown into a £30m brand following a string of product launches and tie-ins with other brands including Birds Eye, Vimto and Ginsters.