McDonald's is probably the most successful propaganda organisation of the second half of the twentieth century, now spending $1.4 billion worldwide every year on advertising and promotions. Yet it has sought to silence those wishing to put over an alternative point of view.
This is already the longest running libel trial in British history and still has 6 months to run. The reason it is taking so long is because McDonald's is trying to suppress a wide range of common sense views on matters of great public interest, which we naturally have an obligation to defend.
The issues being aired daily in Court 35 are the links between diet and ill-health, the exploitation of low-paid workers, the environmental damage caused by mountains of disposable packaging and by cattle ranching, the effects of advertising on children and the suffering of animals for the food industry. Effectively the tables have been turned and it's the Corporation and their business practices that are on trial.
McDonald's original official estimation was that the trial would last '3 - 4 weeks'. But we have learned on our feet how to cross examine. They have brought their big guns into the witness box - around a dozen of their executives from Chicago and from the UK, up to the level of President. They have made many admissions about McDonald's practices, and a great deal of previously secret information has been unearthed.
This, along with the overwhelming public support and donations we've received, has given us the encouragement and strength to continue this 'David vs Goliath' battle. We thank everyone who's expressed their concern and support.
The views expressed in the London Greenpeace Factsheet are now circulating in ever increasing numbers throughout the world - in the UK alone over a million leaflets have been distributed since the writs were slapped on us.
In the light of all this it's not surprising that the Corporation should be seeking a way of backing out of the case. McDonald's Head of Communications, former Thatcher aide Mike Love, this week leaked details of discussions between the two sides. We have an obligation therefore to respond.
McDonald's at their own initiative have twice called discussions with the Defendants in order to pursue ways of ending the case. At both meetings members of the US Board of Directors have flown into London at 24 hours notice to meet with us - most recently last week - and confidential letters have been exchanged.
Our position today is clear. Our pre-conditions for allowing the McDonald's Corporation to withdraw from the case are:
2. We call on McDonald's to apologise to those people they have sued in the past for such statements.
3. We call on McDonald's to pay a substantial sum to a mutually agreeable third party in lieu of compensation to us.
We would not like to see a repetition of such a case again. We believe that it is a right and possibly even a duty to criticise the practices of multinational corporations which dominate our lives, our environment and the world's economy. We call for the abolition of the right of multinational corporations to be able to sue for libel. If they can't stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.
The McLibel 2
28th June 1995