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
    17        respect.
    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

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