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NOTICE OF APPEAL
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL 1990 M No. 5724
ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B E T W E E N :

MCDONALD'S CORPORATION
First Plaintiff
and

MCDONALD'S RESTAURANTS LIMITED
Second Plaintiff
against

HELEN MARIE STEEL
First Defendant
and
DAVID MORRIS
Second Defendant

TAKE NOTICE that the Court of Appeal will be moved as soon as the above named Defendants can be heard on appeal from the order herein of the Honourable Mr. Justice Bell made on 6 August 1997 whereby it was ordered that there will be judgment for the First Plaintiff for 30,000 against the Second Defendant and for 27,500 against the First Defendant (the Second Defendant being severally liable for the whole 30,000 awarded to the First Plaintiff and the First and Second Defendants being jointly and severally liable for 27,500 of the 30,000 awarded to the First Plaintiff) and that there will be judgment for the Second Plaintiff for 30,000 against the Second Defendant and for 27,500 against the First Defendant (the Second Defendant being severally liable for the whole 30,000 awarded to the Second Plaintiff and the First and Second Defendants being jointly and severally liable for 27,500 of the 30,000 awarded to the Second Plaintiff) and that there will be judgment for the Second Plaintiff on the Defendants' counterclaim FOR AN ORDER THAT the First and Second Plaintiffs' claims be dismissed and that there will be judgment for the Defendants on their counterclaim AND for an order that the First Plaintiff and Second Plaintiff pay the First and Second Defendants their costs of this appeal and their costs below to be taxed.

AND FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that the grounds of this appeal are that:

1. The trial judge was wrong in law in holding that the First Plaintiff and/or Second Plaintiff had a right to maintain an action for defamation for each and all of the following reasons:

    (a) The First Plaintiff is a multinational and the First and/or Second Plaintiffs are public corporations, and, as such, had no right at common law to bring an action for defamation, on the public policy ground that in a free and democratic society such corporations must always be open to unfettered scrutiny and criticism, particularly on issues of public interest.

    (b) Under English law, the right of corporations such as the Plaintiffs to maintain an action for defamation is not "clear and certain" as held by the trial judge (J.90). The law is uncertain and/or developing (see Derbyshire CC v Times Newspapers Ltd [1992] 1 QB 770; British Coal Corporation v NUM (Yorkshire Area), unreported, 28 June 1996; and Goldsmith v Bhoyrul, Times, 20 June 1997). Therefore, the trial judge should have had resort to the European Convention Human Rights and the caselaw of the European Court and Commission of Human Rights.

    (c) Alternatively, the trial judge took too narrow an approach to the application of the European Convention on Human Rights. Resort can be made to the Convention not only when the law is uncertain, but also when the common law is developing or where it is certain but incomplete (AG v Observer Ltd, AG v Times Newspapers Ltd [1992] 1 QB 109; Derbyshire CC v Times Newspapers Ltd [1992] 1 QB 770).

    2. In the alternative, if the First and/or Second Plaintiff had a right to maintain an action for defamation, the trial judge erred in law in holding that neither Plaintiff need prove any particular financial loss or "special damage" provided that damage to its good will was likely (J.p88).

    3. Further or in the alternative, the trial judge erred in rejecting the following contentions made by the Defendants:

    (a) That the burden should have been on the Plaintiffs to prove that the matters complained of by them were false.

    (b) That English law should recognise as a defence to defamation proceedings, reasonable belief in the truth of the words complained of.

    (c) That a defence of qualified privilege should have been available to them in respect of such a publication concerning public corporations such as the First and Second Plaintiffs, on issues of public importance or interest.

    (d) That a defence of qualified privilege should be available in respect of publications, such as the London Greenpeace factsheet, which are a reasonable and legitimate response to an actual or perceived attack on the rights of others, in particular vulnerable sections of society who generally lack the means to adequately defend themselves

  • eg [in this case] children, young workers, animals and the environment particularly where the public had a interest and duty to hear such a response.

4. The trial judge erred in holding that the defendants should be put to positive proof of the allegedly defamatory statements. Such a test is too strict, particularly on scientific matters where developments over time are commonplace and/or on subjective matters for example matters of political opinion such as whether specific levels of pay are 'low pay' or not or whether particular aspects of the treatment of animals are cruel.

5. Further or in the alternative, the trial judge erred in law in rejecting the Defendants' contention that the Plaintiffs' action should have been stayed as an abuse of process (J.pp.90-91) on the following grounds (taken as individual factors and cumulatively):

    (a) The denial of legal aid to the Defendants in a case of such nature and public importance, in particular:
      (i) the impossibility of the Defendants being able to adequately and fully prepare, organise and administrate the paperwork and other legal work from their homes and in their spare time, especially in the light of the case length, the extent of documentation, the scope of the issues, the international territory of relevance to be covered and the complex legal and factual research needed;

      (ii) the impossibility of the defendants being able to effectively challenge or even challenge at all the Plaintiffs' counsel's approach and interpretation of the law throughout the trial, bearing in mind his inevitable commitment to the interests of his clients. This is particularly noteworthy (with no disrespect intended to him) in the light of Mr Justice Bell's acknowledged inexperience in this area of law .

    (b) Lack of equality of arms, particularly relevant in the context of an adversarial legal system, and therefore the impossibility of a fair trial.

    (c) Oppression - as well as relevant aforementioned points, the case was personally oppressive to each of the defendants who had to endure the relentless pressure and stress of such a long, detailed, high profile, stressful and continuous (unbroken) action unaided to any significant degree. The case dominated our time for at least 4 years, and the paperwork dominated our homes - our personal lives suffered unacceptably. Mr Morris is a single parent with sole responsibility for a 8 year old child (age 1 when the writs were served). Ms Steel suffered from stress related eczema and exhaustion. Such a trial is an abuse of the principle of a fair and equal hearing. In particular the trial Judge was wrong to fail to take into full account domestic circumstances and grant adjournments where necessary, for example

      (i) When Mr Morris's son broke his leg

      (ii) When Ms Steel's doctor advised that Ms Steel needed a break from court for health reasons.

    (d) The absence of a jury to decide on meaning of the words complained of, the allegations of malice (in both the Claim and the Counterclaim), to evaluate the facts and right to fair comment based on their own experience and common sense, and to intervene should they consider any injustice or oppression to be resulting during the trial or at the end. However efficient, fair-minded and worldly-wise a judge may be he cannot displace the advantage, the value and the right of defendants to be tried by their peers. Where there is an issue of how to try the case with 'convenience' in mind, then the tribunal is empowered to consider any administrative and procedural improvements necessary for the smooth-running and fairness of the trial. This is an entirely separate (and purely technical) matter from the fundamental right of a jury trial.

    (e) The unfair and inconsistent approach to witness statements due to the effects of the new 'practice direction' on limiting evidence in chief being introduced halfway through the trial. This affected the defendants unfairly, especially in the light of the impossibility of their being able to provide clerks etc to facilitate their witnesses in the making of their statements.

    (f) For about half of the case we were denied the official transcripts available to the Plaintiffs. This inevitably resulted in an unfair advantage to the Plaintiffs regarding preparations for cross-examination, ability to take notes and therefore preparation for closing submissions, dealing with the myriad points of law that arose, consulting with our witnesses and so on.

    (g) In the light of the delay in the case, it was impossible for the defendants to gather a substantial amount of the material relevant to the 'publication' issue and other issues (regarding research, and to contact witnesses from the relevant years etc).

    (h) Further we submit that the Plaintiffs, by their agreement with Veggies Ltd over the continued distribution of the London Greenpeace Factsheet (with minimal changes to the leaflet complained of) guaranteed the continued circulation of the words complained of before, during and after the current action. There was therefore no proper legal basis for the action in accordance with the spirit of the defamation laws.

    (i) The wide range of non-defamatory and/or 'everyday' criticisms contained in the words complained of and the Statement of Claim (for example the nature of McJobs, existence of litter, poor quality food and links between diet and disease, advertising being unethical etc) are all part of the fabric of valid public opinion and criticism and should not be subjected to a libel action and judgement. On the contrary the right to hold such opinions without fear of writs should be robustly protected. This was the main cause for the oppressive and inconvenient length and scope of this case. The extensive legal attack by the Plaintiffs on almost the entirety of the issues raised in the Factsheet shows the clear political nature of their legal strategy. Their strategy can only have been that they were seeking to use the court case as a 'show trial' against people they thought would be unable to defend themselves, and having successfully denied the defendants a jury trial were aiming for a quick judgement which would be publicly used to 'vindicate' their Corporate image

  • ie as just another tool for their global publicity directed at the public. This is clearly an abuse of the legal process.

    (j) The delay caused the trial judge to prefer Plaintiff's witnesses (e.g. hired enquiry agents) where there were notes to hand, over Defendants' evidence (J.p.39)

    (l) The refusal to order the Plaintiffs to disclose full and complete copies of the notes relied upon by these witnesses compounded the disadvantage faced by the Defendants.

    (m) That at least 7 agents were hired by the Plaintiffs to infiltrate the small London Greenpeace collective over an 18 month period, and in particular, that at least two agents engaged by the Plaintiffs remained in London Greenpeace after the issue of the writs.

6. Further or in the alternative, the trial judge failed take the factors set out in paragraph 5 above into account when evaluating the evidence and the legal arguments.

7. The trial judge erred in that he fundamentally misunderstood a number of important aspects of the defendants case.

Publication

8. Further or in the alternative, the trial judge erred in law and/or came to conclusions manifestly against the weight of the evidence and/or unsupported by evidence, in holding that the Defendants and each of them had published the leaflet complained of (J.p.78 and 79). In particular:

    (a) The trial judge erred in law by reversing the burden of proof on the issue of publication, wrongly requiring the Defendants to establish that they had not published and/or were not responsible for publishing the leaflet complained of. See for example J.p26-27

    (b) The trial judge was wrong to hold that mere participation in some of the activities of an unincorporated association, without membership, rules or constitution, by the Defendants thereby constituted publication (see, for example, J.p16).

    (c) The trial judge was wrong to hold that failure by the Defendants to disassociate themselves from the activities of such an unincorporated association amounted to publication of the leaflet complained of.

    (d) The trial judge erred in presuming that the reason for the Defendantparticipating in some of the activities of London Greenpeace was to further publication of the leaflet complained of (J.p.16).

    (e) The trial judge was wrong to admit in evidence an disputed extract from an affidavit sworn by the Second Defendant in other proceedings on 31 August 1995, or give any weight to it whatsoever. Alternatively, the trial judge should have

    (a) indicated to the Second Defendant that he was minded to take the extract from the affidavit into account and (b) advised him to consider calling live evidence to support the documentary evidence already submitted by the Second Defendant in rebuttal.

    (f) The trial judge's findings on joint enterprise were overbroad and contravened Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights by reason of their unwarranted inhibition on the right of freedom of association.

    (g) There was no continuity in the Plaintiffs' evidence that the exhibits produced in court had been published by the Defendants. The Judge erred in accepting in evidence copies of the leaflet complained of, when there was no evidence as to their provenance. In particular in accepting a photocopy of the factsheet produced during the course of the trial by the Plaintiffs with no evidence as to where it had come from, (it could in fact have been a photocopy made by the Plaintiffs from a copy previously obtained), and in accepting the suggestion, without any evidence that it was copied on 'recycled paper' and must therefore have come from London Greenpeace. (J.p35)

9. On the issue of publication where the consequences are particularly severe a higher standard of proof should have been imposed on the plaintiffs.

10. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in law in holding the Defendants responsible for publication of the leaflet complained of when there was no or no sufficient evidence to prove any positive act of publication by either of them. In particular

    (a) The trial judge erred in ruling that Mr Morris published the leaflet complained of between 21st September 1987 and 20th September 1990, and that Ms Steel published it between early 1988 and 20th September 1990.

    (b) The trial judge erred in ruling that at all material times Greenpeace (London) or London Greenpeace was a small group of people who worked together with the common aim of campaigning against McDonald's.

    (c) The trial judge erred in ruling that both Ms Steel and Mr Morris were core members of that small group and they were active in its anti-McDonald's campaign up to the commencement of the proceedings on the 20th September 1990: Mr Morris from the beginning of the campaign in about 1984, and Ms Steel from early 1988 at the latest.

    (d) The trial judge erred in finding that the leaflet complained of was a major feature of the anti-McDonald's campaign and that it was distributed at demonstrations, meetings and fayres during the period between Sept 1987 and Sept 1990. And that however low stock of the leaflet complained of may have fallen from time to time, there were always sufficient copies for those publications, whether the copies came from the initial print run or from reprints or photocopies.

    (e) The trial Judge erred in finding that Mr Morris participated in the production of the leaflet complained of in 1986. And in finding that he must have done so with the intention that copies should be published whenever and wherever possible in the future which included the period from the 21st September 1987, to the 20th September 1990. The trial Judge erred in finding that there was no evidence that Mr Morris ever tried to arrest the publication which he had helped set in train. The trial Judge erred in finding that after the initial production of the leaflet by members of the group, Mr Morris remained a member of the group and encouraged its anti-McDonald's campaign which included the publication and distribution of the leaflet, until the commencement of proceedings on the 20th September 1990. The trial Judge erred in finding that he was active in anti-McDonald's activities.

    (f) The trial Judge erred in finding that jointly with others, Mr Morris caused, procured, authorised, concurred in and approved all publications of the leaflet complained of in England and Wales, as well as elsewhere, between the 21st September 1987, and the 20th September 1990.

    (g) The trial Judge erred in finding that Mr Morris shared responsibility, for the publication of several thousand copies worldwide, both directly and consequentially by those to whom it was originally handed or sent handing or copying it on, including several thousand copies within England and Wales.

    (h) The trial Judge erred in finding that by Ms Steel's participation in the group's activities, sharing its anti-McDonald's aims, from early 1988, Ms Steel jointly with others including Mr Morris, caused, procured, authorised, concurred in and approved all publications of the leaflet complained of in England and Wales, as well as elsewhere, between that time and the 20th September 1990.

    (i) The trial Judge erred in finding that Ms Steel's involvement in the anti-McDonald's campaign, involving distribution of the leaflet, during that period, was considerable.

    (j) The trial Judge erred in finding that Ms Steel's responsibility for publication of the leaflet in England and Wales coincided with that of Mr Morris from early l988.

    (k) The trial judge erred in taking into account alleged publication of the leaflet complained of in places outside the jurisdiction of the High Court.

    (l) The trial judge erred in finding that the leaflet complained of was published by Ms Steel and/or Mr Morris and/or at all on:
    16th October 1987 (pp21-24)
    16th October 1988 (pp24-25)
    16th October 1989 (pp31-38)
    21st October 1989 (pp40-43)
    1st March 1990 (p49)
    26th April 1990 (pp52-56)
    30th June 1994 (pp72-73)

    (m) The trial Judge erred in finding that Ms Steel and/or Mr Morris attended the Anti-McDonald's fayre on 29th October 1988 (J.pp25-27) and must therefore have known of and concurred with the publication of the leaflet complained of on that date.

    (n) The trial Judge erred in finding that Ms Steel had answered letters including the sending out of the leaflet complained of (J.p58)

    (o) The trial judge erred in finding that the leaflet complained of was published by Ms Steel and/or Mr Morris on 16th June 1990 (J.pp58-60)

    (p) The Judge erred in attaching any weight to the opinions and/or hearsay evidence of private investigators, for example that the Defendants were lead or core persons in London Greenpeace (e.g. J.p63) or that they needed to be present before decisions were made (e.g. J.p66)

    (q) The trial Judge erred in finding that as Mr Morris had asked Mr Bishop to answer a letter from West Germany asking for more information about the group 'Mr Morris must have know that the aims and objectives leaflet, with its acclamation of the anti-McDonald's campaign and the leaflet complained of, was the standard response to request for information about the group' (J.p66) and/or in holding that this was relevant.

11. In relation to each of the grounds of appeal set out above, it is contended that there was no or no sufficient evidence to support the finding under challenge or that the said findings were against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

12. The trial Judge erred in finding that the reference in a London Greenpeace aims and objectives leaflet was a reference to the letter which Mr Nicholson thought that he had asked solicitors to write in 1987 or 1988, and that this offered support for his recollection although no copy of such a letter has been discovered (J. p28), when there was no evidence to support this finding and the suggestion had not been countenanced at any stage during the trial by the Plaintiffs or anyone else. (See also J.p733)

CONSENT

13. The trial Judge erred in finding that there was no evidence that anyone employed by either Plaintiff in this case authorised or consented to publication or any act of distribution of the leaflet complained of or of any other anti-McDonald's material. (J. pp79-84)

14. Further or in the alternative, the trial judge erred in law in rejecting the Defendants' contention that the Plaintiffs, and each of them, had consented to publication of the whole, or substantial parts. of the leaflet complained of (J.pp.79-84). In particular, the trial judged erred in holding that no inference of consent to publication could be drawn from:

    (a) the fact that the Plaintiffs chose to complain about limited parts only of the 'Veggies' leaflet which was a reprint of the leaflet complained of (J.p.80) and/or

    (b) the fact that the Plaintiffs chose not to complain about the leaflet complained of in these proceedings for over three years from their knowledge of its existence (during which time the Plaintiffs consented to the publication of nearly all of the 'Veggies' leaflet

  • see above) (J.p.80) and/or
15. Further or in the alternative, if, which the Defendants contend was wrong in law, anyone participating in the activities of Greenpeace (London) was responsible for all publications of the leaflet complained of, the trial judge erred in not finding the Plaintiffs consented to such publication by or through their enquiry agents who participated in the said activities.

16. Further or in the alternative, the trial judge should have applied the same standard he applied to the alleged publication by the defendants and therefore accepted the defence of consent as covering all publication by enquiry agents instructed by the Plaintiffs, including any copying and onward publication by recipients of such initial publication as is referred to by the trial judge at pp.83-84 of his judgment.

17. The trial judge erred in holding that the motive of the agents engaged by the Plaintiffs in participating in the activities of London Greenpeace, including distributing the leaflet complained of and/or the motives of the Plaintiffs in hiring them, were relevant to the issue of consent (J.p.83).

General

18. The trial judge erred in not giving full and/or unassailable weight to admissions against interest made by a number of Plaintiffs' representatives, especially those of management grade and above, and other Plaintiffs' witnesses in the witness box, and in company documentation. He further erred in failing to halt the continuing evidence scheduled for such an issue, in the light of the admission removing any real remaining dispute between the parties. For example, McDonald's UK Vice President and Head Of Personnel had admitted that employees 'would not be allowed to carry out any overt union activity on McDonald's premises' and that 'to inform the union about conditions inside the stores' would be a breach of the employee's contract, 'gross misconduct' and as such a 'summary sackable offence'.

19. The trial judge erred and/or displayed bias in making numerous unjustified assumptions about the cogency of the Defendants' evidence and the reliability of their witnesses in sharp contrast to the assumptions made about the Plaintiffs' evidence and witnesses. For example,the trial Judge erred in law in finding that the first defendant was not being honest because she held a different view to the Judge's preferred meaning (not at that time declared) of the words complained of in the main action (J. p727) when the Courts recognise that 'a combination of words may in fact convey different meanings to the minds of different readers' (J. p86)

20. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in giving equal or greater weight to the evidence of the Plaintiff's representatives and consultants still in the employ or financial ambit of the company as compared and contrasted to the evidence of the independent defence witnesses. For example: his judgement states that he preferred the evidence of Plaintiffs' cancer treatment expert Dr Sydney Arnott over the internationally eminent Defence cancer causation research experts Professor Campbell and Crawford.

20a. Further or alternatively and without prejudice to the foregoing, the Trial Judge erred in not finding in the defendants favour under Section 5 of the Defamation Act 1952, ['the defence of justification shall not fail by reason only that the truth of every charge is not proved, if the words not proved to be true do not materially injure the Plaintiffs' reputations having regard to the truth of the remaining charges.'] when allegations relating to the core business practices of McDonald's had been found proven, namely that (for example);

"I....find that various of [McDonald's] advertisements, promotions and booklets have pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which McDonald's food, high in fat and saturated fat and animal products and sodium, and at one time low in fibre, did not match."

"[People] who eat McDonald's food several times a week will take the very real risk of heart disease if they continue to do so throughout their lives, encouraged by the Plaintiffs' advertising." "It is possible it increases the risk to some extent" [of breast cancer] and "strongly possible that it increases the risk to some extent" [of bowel cancer].

"The sting of the leaflet to the effect that the Plaintiffs exploit children by using them, as more susceptible subjects of advertising, to pressurise their parents into going to McDonald's is justified. It is true."

"The result of all this is that the message of this part of the leaflet to the effect that the Second Plaintiff pays its workers low wages, helping to depress wages for workers in the catering trade in Britain has been proved to be true. It is justified."

"[McDonald's] are strongly antipathetic to any idea of unionisation of crew in their restaurants"

"[McDonald's] are culpably responsible for cruel practices in the rearing and slaughter of some of the animals which are used to produce their food"

Issues

21. Where the words complained of were capable of an innocent meaning, the trial judge erred in ignoring the innocent meaning and in finding that the actual meaning was the allegedly defamatory meaning

DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT

(A) RAINFORESTS/THIRD WORLD HUNGER
22. The trial judge erred in his findings as to the meanings of the words complained of in that the following meanings found by him were not the natural or ordinary meanings of the said words:

    (a) McDonald's is to blame for starvation in the Third World; firstly because it has bought vast tracts of land in poor countries (for cattle ranching, presumably) and evicted the small farmers who lived there growing food for their own people; secondly because the power of its money has forced poor countries to export food (beef, most obviously) to it in the United States, and thirdly because it has drawn some Third World countries to export staple crops as cattle feed.

    (b) The Plaintiffs are guilty of the destruction of rainforest; that they use and have used lethal poisons to destroy vast areas of Central American rainforest to create grazing pastures for cattle to be sent to the United States as burgers and to provide fast-food packaging materials; that the Plaintiffs are through this conduct causing wanton damage to the environment and contributing to a major ecological catastrophe, and that they are forcing the tribal people in the rainforest off their ancestral territories where they have lived peacefully for thousands of years, without damaging their environment.

    (c) Further the trial judge erred in ruling that "rainforest" in the context of the leaflet, must mean more than tropical forest of any kind and that it would mean luxuriant, broad-leaved, evergreen, very wet, canopy forest:

  • very wet because of very heavy rainfall
  • to the ordinary reader of the leaflet.
23. Further or alternatively the trial judge wrongly relied upon satirical cartoons, graphics, colloquialisms and/or the supposed context to alter the clear natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of.

24. Further or alternatively, when determining the meaning of the words complained of, the trial judge failed to put the words complained of into their proper context. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the trial judge in particular failed to distinguish at all between the criticisms of and comments about McDonald's and the criticisms and comments about the hamburger industry and or US Corporations in general.

25. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in his failure to recognise the existence of comment in the words complained of.

26. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in not finding that the natural or ordinary meaning of the words complained of were either fully justified or fair comment on the basis of the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented at trial.For example, it was clearly established (based on the trial judge's findings, admissions by Plaintiff's representatives in the witness box or in official company documents, by expert testimony, and/or by the evidence of independent witnesses of fact) that:

  1. McDonald's is the worlds largest user and promoter of beef products and has been for over 10 years
  2. the rise in global consumption and promotion of beef products is a major cause of tropical forest and/or rainforest destruction, and the eviction of small farmers and indigenous peoples
  3. McDonald's use and have used beef products from tropical forest/rainforest countries
  4. McDonald's use and have used beef from ex-tropical forest/rainforest areas
  5. McDonald's use and have used for their products animals fed with soya feed grown in Brazil thereby contributing to processes leading to forest destruction and displacement of peoples
  6. McDonald's are an integral part of the international cash crop economy, which is a major cause of third world poverty and hunger

(B) PACKAGING

27. The trial judge erred in his findings as to the meanings of the words complained of in that the followings meanings found by him were not the natural or ordinary meanings of the said words:

    (a) That the Plaintiffs are lying when they claim to use re-cycled paper and that the Plaintiffs are to blame for tons of the Plaintiffs' paper packaging ending up littering the cities of developed countries

    (b) That it takes 800 square miles of rainforest just to keep McDonald's supplied with paper for one year,

28. Further or alternatively the trial judge wrongly relied upon satirical cartoons, graphics, colloquialisms and/or the supposed context to alter the clear natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of.

29. Further or alternatively, when determining the meaning of the words complained of, the trial judge failed to put the words complained of into their proper context.

30. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in his failure to recognise the existence of comment in the words complained of.

31. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in not finding that the natural or ordinary meaning of the words complained of were either fully justified or fair comment on the basis of the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented at trial. For example, it was clearly established (based on the trial judge's findings, admissions by Plaintiff's representatives in the witness box or in official company documents, by expert testimony, and/or by the evidence of independent witnesses of fact) that:

  • At the time of the alleged libel only a very small percentage of McDonald's packaging was made from recycled material

  • McDonald's use and have used and encourage the use of vast quantities of instantly disposable paper and plastic packaging

  • the production and disposal of such packaging involves damage to the environment

  • a considerable amount of McDonald's packaging ends up as litter, and companies can be held legally accountable by local authorities in the UK for the litter they generate

  • McDonald's recycles an insignificant percentage of such packaging, and that this is despite giving an impression to the contrary

32. The trial Judge erred in ruling that both the general, factual sting and the comment referred to clearly relate to damage to the environment by destruction of rainforest and discounting or disallowing evidence about damage to the environment by other means such as the use of CFC or HCFC or pentane gases to make polystyrene foam packaging or the simple use of non-biodegradable polystyrene foam packaging, or by the cutting down of forests generally, or by the processing of pulp to make paper or paperboard packaging, or by incineration of waste, or by methane emissions from cattle.

NUTRITION

33. The trial judge erred in his findings as to the meanings of the words complained of in that the following meanings found by him were not the natural or ordinary meanings of the said words:

(a) That McDonald's food is very unhealthy because it is high in fat, sugar, animal products and salt (sodium), and low in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and because eating it more than just occasionally may well make your diet high in fat, sugar, animal products and salt (sodium), and low in fibre, vitamins and minerals, with the very real, that is to say serious or substantial risk that you will suffer cancer of the breast or bowel or heart disease as a result; that McDonald's know this but they do not make it clear; that they still sell the food, and they deceive customers by claiming that their food is a useful and nutritious part of any diet.

34. Further or alternatively the trial judge wrongly relied upon satirical cartoons, graphics, colloquialisms and/or the supposed context to alter the clear natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of.

35. Further or alternatively, when determining the meaning of the words complained of, the trial judge failed to put the words complained of into their proper context.

36. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the trial judge in particular failed to distinguish at all between the criticisms of and comments about McDonald's food and the criticisms and comments about fast food and diet in general.

37. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in his failure to recognise the existence of comment in the words complained of.

38. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in not finding that the natural or ordinary meaning of the words complained of were either fully justified or fair comment on the basis of the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented at trial. For example, it was clearly established (based on the trial judge's findings, admissions by Plaintiff's representatives in the witness box or in official company documents, by expert testimony, and/or by the evidence of independent witnesses of fact) that:

  1. That McDonald's falsely promote their food as 'nutritious', and also influence dietary habits of substantial numbers of the population

  2. McDonald's promote and sell food products, in particular mass produced, processed burgers, fries and shakes, which are high in fat, animal fat, salt and sugar and low in fibre and vitamins

  3. a diet of this type is unhealthy and causally linked to degenerative diseases (including cancers of the breast and bowel and heart disease), and also this is a standard view of informed and responsible medical opinion (such as the World Health Organisation)

  4. substantial numbers of the population are at serious risk of diet-related degenerative diseases

  5. McDonald's sales depend substantially on regular 'heavy' and 'super heavy' users of their products, a substantial number of whom also eat similar food much of the rest of the time. Despite knowing this, McDonald's deliberately target such customers to increase their usage

FOOD POISONING

39. The trial judge erred in his findings as to the meanings of the words complained of in that the followings meanings found by him were not the natural or ordinary meanings of the said words:

    (a) That the Plaintiffs promote the consumption of meals at McDonald's as a fun event when they know full well that the contents could poison the children who eat them.

    (b) That the First and Second Plaintiffs sell meat products which, as they must know, expose their customers including children, to whom they promote their meals, to a serious risk of food poisoning and of poisoning by the residues of antibiotic drugs, growth-promoting hormone drugs and pesticides.

    (c) Further that the Judge erred in ruling that the comment 'the food they're seduced into eating is at best mediocre, at worst poisonous' could only refer to food poisoning.

40. Further or alternatively the trial judge wrongly relied upon satirical cartoons, graphics, colloquialisms and/or the supposed context to alter the clear natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of.

41. Further or alternatively, when determining the meaning of the words complained of, the trial judge failed to put the words complained of into their proper context. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the trial judge in particular failed to distinguish at all between the criticisms of and comments about McDonald's and the criticisms and comments about the meat industry and modern agricultural practices in general.

42. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in his failure to recognise the existence of comment in the words complained of.

43. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in not finding that the natural or ordinary meaning of the words complained of were either fully justified or fair comment on the basis of the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented at trial. For example, it was clearly established (based on the trial judge's findings, admissions by Plaintiff's representatives in the witness box or in official company documents, by expert testimony, and/or by the evidence of independent witnesses of fact) that:

  1. Meat, especially minced beef and chicken, is responsible for the majority of food poisoning incidents

  2. McDonald's have been found to be responsible for a number of serious outbreaks of food poisoning

  3. A high percentage of McDonald's raw meat products (including chicken and beef) contain pathogenic bacteria (including salmonella, campylobacter and Ecoli 0157) and this is due to rearing, slaughter and manufacturing processes which magnify and spread pathogenic organisms at each stage

  4. the risk of undercooking is endemic in the fast food system, In particular at McDonald's because of the speed of the operation

  5. McDonald's cooking time/temperatures for their beef products have been raised since 1990 (the time of the alleged libel) yet still don't conform to minimum standards as recommended by the statutory authorities

  6. modern agricultural and husbandry practices have resulted in the widespread and routine use of pesticides, and of antibiotic and hormonal growth promoters and therapeutic agents, leading to public and statutory bodies' concerns over risks to public health

44. He further erred in excluding areas of evidence as irrelevant to any disputed issue, such as BSE and McDonald's use of additives..

EMPLOYMENT

45. The trial judge erred in his findings as to the meanings of the words complained of in that the followings meanings found by him were not the natural or ordinary meanings of the said words:

(a) That the First and Second Plaintiffs are only interested in recruiting cheap labour and exploit disadvantaged groups, women and black people especially, as a result

46. He further erred in ruling that: it is defamatory of a commercial, trading company to say that it pays its workers low wage. It is more defamatory to say that it is only interested in recruiting cheap labour and that it exploits disadvantaged groups, women and black people as a result. It is also and separately defamatory to say that it provides bad working conditions, but the real, general sting of this part of the leaflet is the combination of low pay and bad working conditions: low pay for bad conditions.

47. He further erred in ruling that it isn't defamatory of a corporation to say simply that it is "anti-union" but that it is clearly defamatory to say that the Plaintiffs have a policy of sacking employees who have union sympathies.

48. Further or alternatively the trial judge wrongly relied upon satirical cartoons, graphics, colloquialisms and/or the supposed context to alter the clear natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of.

49. Further or alternatively, when determining the meaning of the words complained of, the trial judge failed to put the words complained of into their proper context. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the trial judge in particular failed to distinguish at all between the criticisms of and comments about McDonald's and the criticisms and comments about the catering industry in general.

50. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in his failure to recognise the existence of comment in the words complained of.

51. Further or alternatively, the trial judge erred in not finding that the natural or ordinary meaning of the words complained of were either fully justified or fair comment on the basis of the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented at trial. For example, it was clearly established (based on the trial judge's findings, admissions by Plaintiff's representatives in the witness box or in official company documents, by expert testimony, and/or by the evidence of independent witnesses of fact) that:

  1. workers in catering do badly in terms of pay and conditions

  2. McDonald's pay is low even compared to the already low average wage in a low-paid industry (catering), and some workers have even been illegally underpaid

  3. McDonald's profits depend on the labour of young workers (two thirds of their workers are under 21)

  4. Many youth, women and black people, who are generally considered to be sections of society facing various forms of general discrimination, have restricted choice in the labour market and therefore end up working for low paying employers like McDonald's

  5. Regarding wages, McDonald's main concern is cheap labour rather than some claimed benevolent or charitable motive as in their stated opinion of 'providing jobs for school leavers regardless of sex or race'

  6. McDonald's store management are under pressure to meet strict labour cost percentage targets on a daily or even hourly basis, and continually and obsessively monitor such costs. The balance lies with the saving of a few pounds rather than the interests of the individual worker.

  7. McDonald's workers have an exceptionally high turnover rate, and its not unusual for workers to quit after a few weeks

  8. their workers generally have no guaranteed hours and no guaranteed employment or conditions of employment, except where statutory protection applies

  9. the work is hard, sometimes noisy and hectic, with occasionally long and extended shifts including late at night, breaks are very often inadequate and unreliable (often unlawfully short), and workers can be compulsorily sent home or kept on against their wishes by management

  10. workers are under pressure to 'hustle' (a company culture condemned by the Health And Safety Executive) despite being in a hot, kitchen environment, and the risk of injury is everpresent

  11. management power is autocratic and workers have no third party representation in the case of individual or collective grievances

  12. McDonald's is strongly opposed to any idea of unionisation of crew in their stores, and their contract of employment contains unlawful and/or repressive clauses outlawing (with the threat of disciplinary action) any overt union-type activity on the premises, and outlawing workers contacting a Trade Union to discuss in-store conditions (deemed 'gross misconduct', a 'summary sackable offence'). This is a clear policy of preventing unionisation by getting rid of pro-Union workers.

Counterclaim

52. The trial Judge erred in finding that the third document put out by the Second Plaintiff did not allege that the Defendants had falsely claimed that they had not been involved in a campaign against McDonald's when this was clearly stated in the words complained of (J. p721).

53. Further the trial Judge erred in failing to find the natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of in the third document, namely that the Defendants

    (a) have deliberately ignored several letters sent by McDonald's solicitors since 1984 advising them that the leaflet was defamatory and have despite these letters, persistently continued to distribute the said leaflet and thereby spread lies.

    (b) have falsely claimed that they are not actively involved, when they have, for many years, taken leading roles in a consistent campaign against McDonald's, including responsibility for organising demonstrations and anti-McDonald's fayres.

54. The trial Judge erred in finding that although it was inaccurate to allege that the Defendants had ignored several letters sent to them since 1984 by McDonald's solicitors, the Second Plaintiff's charge, in early 1994, that the Defendants had tried to avoid responsibility for the leaflet complained of has been justified.

55. The trial Judge erred in finding that there was justification for the allegation that the Defendants had falsely claimed that they had not been involved in a London Greenpeace campaign against McDonald's (J. p734) when there was no, or no sufficient evidence to support this.

56. There was no or no sufficient evidence to support the trial Judge's finding that the Defendants put out material as part of the McLibel Support Campaign, which contained strongly worded criticisms of the Plaintiffs, involving repetition of the allegations in the leaflet complained of, assertions that those allegations were true, criticism of the Plaintiffs for having instituted and continued libel proceedings against the Defendants to intimidate the Defendants and to suppress freedom of speech, and an allegation that the Second Plaintiff had suppressed material documents to cover up the truth contained in the leaflet complained of.

57. The trial Judge erred in finding that the Defendants and each of them would have ignored letters sent by the Plaintiffs concerning the leaflet complained of in the main action when there was no or no sufficient evidence to support this, and/or erred in taking this into account in a decision about whether the Plaintiffs had in fact written to the Defendants about the said leaflet. (J. p734)

58. The trial Judge erred in law in holding that the second Plaintiff was protected in making defamatory statements of the Defendants, which had not been justified, by the defence of qualified privilege. Without prejudice to the generality of this ground of appeal, it is submitted that:

    (a) the trial judge erred in holding that a defence of qualified privilege was available to a corporation such as the Second Plaintiff, which was incapable of human emotions and reactions and/or

    (b) the publication of the leaflet and press releases complained of were not an immediate reaction an attack upon it and/or

    (c) the trial judge erred in finding that the second Plaintiff's publication of the documents complained about in the counterclaim were a reaction to a public attack upon it and/or

    (d) the trial judge erred in finding that refutation by the Defendants of the claim brought against them by the Plaintiffs was capable of amounting to a public attack on the Plaintiff.

    (e) the trial judge erred in finding that the Second Plaintiff had a duty to publish the defamatory statements to the public and the media generally and/or in finding that the media and the public had a corresponding duty to receive that information (J. p746)

    (f) the trial judge erred in holding that the defence of qualified privilege could apply to documents produced and/or prepared in anticipation of attack

59. The trial Judge erred in ruling that there was insufficient evidence to show that the statements made in the three documents of which the Defendants complained were made in bad faith or with an improper motive.

60. The trial Judge erred in ruling that even if the Second Plaintiff acted with malice or bad faith or an improper motive in publishing the leaflets complained about in the counterclaim did not defeat the defence of qualified privilege because it was not the dominant motive for the publication. (J p757)

Damages

61. The trial judge erred in finding that the Defendants lack of means were irrelevant to the question of level of damages.

62. The trial judge erred in law in awarding substantial damages, or any damages, to the Plaintiffs, when there was no evidence as to the extent of publication of the leaflet complained of and/or the extent, if any, of the Defendants' specific involvement in any such publication (J.p.32).

63. The trial judge erred in law in awarding substantial damages, or any damages, to both the First and Second Plaintiffs, when:

    (a) the Plaintiffs are indistinguishable and do not have separate reputations and/or

    (b) the First Plaintiff has no reputation in the jurisdiction and/or

    (c) some of the allegedly defamatory allegations found by the trial judge did not refer to the Second Plaintiff

    (d) the Defendants further rely on ground 20a.

AND FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that the Defendants propose that this appeal be assigned to the Queen's Bench Division Final List.

DATED the 3rd day of September 1997

HELEN MARIE STEEL

DAVID MORRIS

To the First and Second Plaintiff
and to Barlow, Lyde, and Gilbert
Beaufort House
15 St. Botolph Street
London, EC3A 7NJ

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