Day 002 - 29 Jun 94 - Page 02

                                            Wednesday, 29th June, 1994.
         (10.30 am)
         MR. JUSTICE BELL:  Yes?
         MISS STEEL:  Mr. Morris is going to go into more detail about
     5        our case after I have spoken, but this are just a few
              points I wanted to make.  Yesterday Mr. Rampton implied
     6        that McDonald's did not seek to silence its critics.  We
              dispute this totally and utterly.  We feel there is one
     7        word that can sum up what this case is about, and that
              word is "censorship".  McDonald's are using the libel laws
     8        of this country to censor and silence their critics.
     9        This did not start with our case; they have threatened
              numerous organisations and individuals with legal action
    10        for criticising their practices both before and after this
              case.  Because of the enormous costs of fighting a libel
    11        case most of their critics have been forced to apologise.
              We have only been able to fight this case as a result of
    12        the generosity of the public and the goodwill of some
              members of the legal profession, who, concerned about the
    13        implications of freedom of speech and the imbalance in
              resources between the parties, have given us free legal
    14        advice and assistance; otherwise by now we too would
              almost certainly have been silenced.
              You will hear during the course of this trial that many of
    16        those who have apologised to McDonald's did so after being
              told lies by McDonald's about the company's practices, and
    17        contrary to the picture McDonald's have tried to paint
              most apologise because of the huge difficulties in
    18        fighting a libel case -- not because they believed they
              had libelled McDonald's.
              Mr. Rampton referred yesterday to a leaflet drawing an
    20        analogy between McDonald's and the late Robert Maxwell.
              We believe that McDonald's are the Robert Maxwell of
    21        corporations.  They throw writs at anyone who dares to
              criticise them, no matter how small.  In a file of
    22        documents that were served on Monday entitled "Words
              Complained Of", in document No. 44 there is reference to
    23        legal action taken against a tea shop who had put up a
              handwritten poster about McDonald's in their window.  This
    24        is a sign of just how desperate McDonald's are to silence
              their critics.
              We feel that it is an outrage that a company which spends 
    26        one billion dollars every year on advertising and 
              promotions goes to such lengths to prevent alternative 
    27        points of view from being heard.  Until his death, Robert
              Maxwell's critics were silenced because of their fear of
    28        libel writs.  After his death, however, it was shown that
              his critics were right all along.
              During this trial we intend to show that the public face
    30        of McDonald's is a fraud; that the truth that lies behind
              their image is far from savoury.

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