AFTER THE VERDICT: AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE McLIBEL DEFENDANTS
The McLibel case was a clear attempt by the McDonald's Corporation to use the
English libel laws to suppress criticism of the company's business
practices. The case could not have been brought in the United States (or
many other countries) where multinational companies cannot sue for libel
over such public interest issues. By standing up to the company's
intimidation the tables were turned on McDonald's and the company found that
all its dirty laundry was aired in public during the trial, exposing the
truth behind its glossy image.
All the legal cards were stacked against us - oppressive and unfair libel laws, no Legal Aid, huge imbalance of resources ($30 billion-a-year corporation against our combined annual income of less than $12,000 [7,500 pounds]), and denial of a jury trial. Despite all of this, we still won significant and substantial parts of the Judgment. Furthermore, of the other parts of the Judgment, we lost simply on technicalities. McDonald's won those parts on the basis of controversial legal and semantic interpretations of the meaning of the "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" factsheet, and because the Corporation had changed their case on a number of occasions when the evidence had gone against them.
The company must be devastated that, despite all the disparity and unfairness, the Judge still found as a fact that McDonald's "exploit children" through their advertising, that they are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals, and that the company pays low wages and is anti-union. The Judge also found that McDonald's food was "high in fat and saturated fat and animal products and sodium" and that "advertisements, promotions and booklets have pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which McDonald's food ..... did not match" (ie. that the food is not nutritious and that they are therefore deceiving the public when they promote it as such). Action should now be taken on all these matters, which go to the very core of the Corporation's business.
Amazingly the McDonald's Corporation (based in Oak Brook, Illinois) is refusing to comment on the verdict, claiming falsely that it is a "UK issue". Have they forgotten they are the first and leading Plaintiff in this action? They called top US executives into the witness box to give evidence. Shelby Yastrow, Senior Vice President of McDonald's Corporation, was in court for the verdict and twice flew over with other executives during the trial for secret settlement meetings with us. The Corporation obviously knows the damaging nature of the findings made against them and in the evidence as a whole throughout the trial. We believe their refusal to comment is an admission of a humiliating defeat. It is a damage limitation exercise.
On Saturday 21st June (declared a 'Victory Day of Action'), there were protests and leafletting outside of hundreds of McDonald's stores around the world. Up to half a million leaflets were given out. As we were denied a jury trial, the public are in effect the wider jury. The 'McSpotlight' Internet site (containing the full official transcripts of the proceedings) and campaigners in general are committed to continuing to provide the public with the facts they need to judge for themselves.
We hope that our case has shown that ordinary people can stand up to, and beat, the most powerful adversary. Of course its not just McDonald's, or just the fast food industry. Multinationals and governments collectively dominate our lives and our planet, resulting everywhere in the exploitation and oppression of people, animals and the environment. And on top of that we are expected to put up with their propaganda! But wherever there is oppression there is resistance - protests, strikes, campaigns, community solidarity, non-cooperation, boycotts, people organising themselves and creating alternatives, and so on. We encourage people to get together where they live and work, to talk about these important issues and to fightback.
Together ordinary people can reclaim our world, currently based on the greed and power of a minority, and create a society based on strong and free communities, the sharing of precious resources and respect for all life.
McLibel trial Defendants
c/o London Greenpeace,
5 Caledonian Road, London N1, UK
Every word from the McLibel Trial - amounting to 313 days of transcripts.
The subject of the libel trial
Every page of Rodger's 800 page verdict aswell as the summary if you want a quick read.