Day 001 - 28 Jun 94 - Page 02
1 Tuesday 28th June 1994.
2 MR. MORRIS: Just one matter I would like to bring up. We are
making an offer to McDonald's that we will drop our
3 counterclaim if they apologise by 4 o'clock today. We
have served the papers on them. The counterclaim is for
4 libelling us in national leaflets they produced. We are
also serving a request for further and better particulars
5 today if they do not apologise by 4 o'clock.
6 MR. JUSTICE BELL: Yes, Mr. Rampton?
7 MR. RAMPTON: My Lord, in this action I appear with my learned
friend Mr. Timothy Atkinson for the plaintiffs who are
8 McDonald's Corporation, an American company which has
achieved some reknown throughout the world for the sale of
9 fast food including, in particular, hamburgers and what in
this country we call chips but which, in the context of
10 this case, I shall call french fries; for the second
plaintiffs, McDonald's Restaurants Limited, who are the
11 United Kingdom subsidiary of the American Corporation.
12 The defendants who sit in the same row as I do, Mr. David
Morris and Miss Helen Steel, appear in person. Behind
13 them sit a row of McKenzie friends. My Lord, it will be
necessary to say something more about the parties in due
14 course, but first of all, however, the action, as your
Lordship knows, is a libel action. The plaintiffs sue on
15 a leaflet entitled: "What is wrong with McDonald's?
Everything they do not want you to know" which, the
16 plaintiffs assert, contains numerous statements about them
which are highly defamatory and false in every material
18 I will read the leaflet to your Lordship in open court in
a moment. However, in the light of a large amount of
19 publicity generated and distributed by the defendants in
recent weeks, it is important that I should say this,
20 except in so far as the defendants may succeed in
satisfying your Lordship that the contents of this leaflet
21 are true or fair comment, this action is not about freedom
of speech, for the reason that the law of this country
22 (which values freedom of speech as highly as any) does not
extend to the protection of the dissemination of
23 falsehoods about other people.
24 My Lord, the plaintiffs say that the defendants
distributed copies of the leaflet complained of to members
25 of the public by different means on various occasions
during late 1989 and early 1990. The plaintiffs also say
26 that on some occasions the defendants did this themselves,
that is to say, physically themselves, and that on other
27 occasions they achieved it by planning, encouraging,
approving or participating in its distribution by others.
The plaintiffs also say this, because it is relevant to
29 their claims for an injunction and to the issue of malice,
that the defendants have on numerous occasions from 1990
30 right up to yesterday published or caused to be published
other material which makes similar allegations to those