McDonald's VsBournemouth Advertiser

Summary: The Bournemouth Advertiser publishes a story on an animal rights protest at a local McD store. The piece includes a quote about cruel animal slaughter policies. The paper is forced to apologise.

Barlow, Lyde and Gilbert

The Editor
Bournemouth Advertiser
71- 73 High Street
BH15 1BB

2nd February 1990

Dear Sir,

We act for McDonald's Restaurants Limited, the company which runs the McDonald's Restaurants chains in the United Kingdom.

Our clients have drawn to our attention an article which appeared in your newspaper on 12th October 1989 under the heading "Demo beefs over cattle" by David Haith (copy enclosed).

The allegations of inhumane slaughter which you have printed have no basis in fact as regards our clients. You publish the remarks of Malcolm Venn of Animal Aid, citing a consultant report. Not only is sucha quotation obviously highly selective, but also it in no way establishes that McDonald's approve the captive-bolt method cited. The article clearly implies that McDonald's can be associated with this or other similar cruel practices.

McDonald's is a company which is highly concerned with ethical issues. Furthermore, food quality is very important to them. This means that the food they use must not only be of high quality but also it must be safe as far as public health is concerned. This they are aware of recent research, some of which indicates that certain inhumane methods of slaughter cause shock to the animal, which in turn may affect the meat quality. Finally, their abattoirs are of course inspected regularly and meet all regulations.

We have advised our clients that the defamatory article gives them an undoubted right to issue proceedings against your newspaper for damages, payment of their legal costs, and a final injunction prohibiting the repitition of these defamatory allegations.

We have been instructed to institute proceedings, unless we have heard from you within seven days of the date of this letter as foolows:

  1. that you will confirm that the same or similar defamatory remarks will not be made in the future;

  2. that the newspaper will publish an apology retracting the defamatory allegations and apologising unreservedly to our clients, the apology to be approved by our clients prior to publication;

  3. that you pay all our client's legal costs on an Indemnity basis.

Should you agree to this course of action our clients are prepared not to pursue their claim for damages which, until this matter is resolved to our client's satisfaction, remains strictly reserved.

Yours faithfully.