Day 002 - 29 Jun 94 - Page 02
Wednesday, 29th June, 1994.
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
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.