Officials from the British Olympic Association (BOA) have asked a group which supports Britain’s withdrawal from the EU to stop using photos of the nation’s medal-winning athletes in posts on social media.
Leave.EU – which played a key part in the recent referendum campaign – has been sent a letter by the BOA’s solicitors, instructing the organisation to stop using logos and photos of Team GB members on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Leave.EU were also asked to immediately remove all relevant social media posts and online content, and thereafter to cease using any of the BOA’s intellectual property.
Leave.EU was founded by millionaire businessman Arron Banks and had sought to use stories of Britain’s success in Rio as evidence that the nation can thrive outside of Europe.
The social media posts by Leave.EU have raised concerns at the BOA, who argue that the organisation is infringing the association’s intellectual property and implying a link between the two entities which does not exist.
“These rights are reserved exclusively for our official partners who, as you will appreciate, pay significant sums to use our IP and associate themselves with the Olympic Games,” said the letter.
The BOA has confirmed it has not yet taken formal legal action but said that it had been compelled to contact organisations which were seen to be infringing the IP of athletes and the team as a whole.
“In this case, given the scale of the use of our intellectual property without our consent, we contacted Leave.EU by email to request them to refrain from doing so,” said a spokesman.
The warning comes after the Eurosceptic group appeared to have annoyed Callum Skinner, a Team GB track cyclist who won both a gold and silver medal in the velodrome.
The 24-year-old Scotsman responded to a video posted by the organisation by thanking them for their support while adding: “I wish you wouldn’t use my image to promote your campaign.”