15-19th April 1996

Each week McSpotlight will be bringing you a brief report on the latest developments in the McLibel case.

The Trial resumed on Wednesday 17th April after the official Court Easter vacation.

McDonald's witness fails to show

During the afternoon of Monday 15th April, McDonald's solicitors wrote to the Defendants stating that they could not trace their witness who was due to give evidence on the 17th. The witness, Mr Donald Monroe, had been scheduled to give evidence criticising the 1984 documentary film Jungleburger, in which Sergio Quintana, the Sales Director of Coop Montecillos, McDonald's suppliers in Costa Rica, was filmed at his plant saying: "We supply McDonald's and Burger King" in the USA. According to McDonald's, all attempts to contact Mr Monroe had failed, and he had not turned up in the UK at the time he was due.

McDonald's said that instead of Mr Monroe, they now intended to call witnesses to give evidence on Publication (whether Helen & Dave distributed the London Greenpeace factsheet complained of by McDonald's). The defendants immediately wrote to McDonald's saying that they were not ready to start on the Publication issue, and would need time to prepare for it, as they had spent the Easter 'vacation' preparing for the rainforest issue, which had been scheduled by McDonald's as the current issue.

On Wednesday the Defendants repeated this argument in front of the Judge, explaining that there were over five lever arch files of documents (approx 2,500 pages) to read and prepare questions on, relating to the publication issue, and that they hadn't been able to do all this due to the short notice given by McDonald's of change of witness. The Judge, however, ruled that McDonald's could call their witness Mr Terry Carroll to give his evidence on publication.

Judge rules on amendments

The Judge also handed down his ruling in which McDonald's were allowed to amend their Statement of Claim (their original case against Helen Steel and Dave Morris). Previously, McDonald's case regarding the distribution of the London Greenpeace Factsheet had always been that the two defendants were responsible for the handing out of the leaflet on a handful of specific occasions in 1989/90.

The supposed evidence for this rests entirely on company security representatives and the future testimony of four infiltrators sent into London Greenpeace by McDonald's. Now, the Judge has allowed McDonald's to amend their case to claim that the defendants, by virtue of their involvement in London Greenpeace, were responsible for the production and distribution of the factsheet 'wheresoever and whensoever' it had taken place!

The Judge also ruled that the Defendants could amend THEIR defence to claim that, because McDonald's infiltrators had been actively involved in the group and had helped to circulate the Factsheet, McDonald's had consented to its distribution.

However, the Judge disallowed the Defendants' amendment that McDonald's had consented to publication of the factsheet by virtue of their failure to take any action to stop its distribution until over three and a half years after the company first became aware of it. (Contrary to their frequent claims in the media, McDonald's never wrote to London Greenpeace, nor to anybody involved with the group, about the factsheet until they served writs on the Defendants in September 1990.)

Company security chief admits they infiltrated London Greenpeace for 2 years

On the 17th & 18th, Terry Carroll, Head of Security of McDonald's UK since 1984, gave evidence. Prior to joining McDonald's Mr Carroll had spent 30 years in the Metropolitan police, reaching the rank of Chief Superintendant.

For 3 years until he was promoted to that position in 1981, Mr Carroll had worked under Sid Nicholson - McDonald's Vice President with responsibility for Personnel and Security - when Mr Nicholson was Chief Superintendent of Brixton Division of the Met.

Mr Carroll admitted McDonald's had hired two firms of 'enquiry agents' (Bishops and Kings) to infiltrate London Greenpeace meetings and activities before and AFTER the writs were served on the defendants. Despite being in charge of Security he claimed to have not been consulted or informed about the spies activities, although he 'suspected' there were also 'undercover agents' at London Greenpeace demonstrations from 1989 to 1991.

A report written by Mr Carroll about the 16th October 1989 protest outside McDonald's HQ, and sent to Paul Preston, McDonald's UK President, stated "I obtained photographs of all of the demonstrators and I will have them identified in due course". Quizzed about this, Mr Carroll said he had intended to have them identified "through whatever sources I could". He admitted that on one demonstration personal information about protestors had been relayed to him by a Special Branch Officer who was present at the demonstration.

As head of Security, Mr Carroll said he regularly sent out instructions to all McDonald's branches on what steps to take when the stores were picketed. This included advice that wherever possible photographs should be taken of protestors and these should be sent to regional headquarters along with copies of any leaflets obtained.

Mr Carroll stated that prior to the company's regionalisation in 1990/91 all reports and photographs of demonstrations had been sent to him. The purpose of this was to try to identify if there was a "hard core" of people carrying out protests all around the country. The company discovered that in fact protests were generally local people picketing their local branch (surprise, surprise!).

He said "literally hundreds" of leaflets had been sent to him and that so many came in that the files became "unwieldy". He stated that no legal action stemming from these files had ever been taken against protestors.

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