: McSpotlight: So if it is widely accepted that fast food is generally unhealthy, why did McDonald's try to go to court to stop the distribution of a leaflet which said that fast food is unhealthy?
If someone said something bad about you, wouldnt you try to stop it?
McSpotlight: Even if it was true?
Note: The libel laws, as they stand in the UK; are weighted in favour of the accuser and against the accused. If someone says that you have libelled them, you have to prove that you didn't. In something as fuzzy as diet and health, there are any number of eminent authorities on either side; although the balance of the evidence suggests that a bad diet is linked to cancer and heart disease. Both sides can roll out people with PhDs who can argue their case for them.
However, let's consider the sides here; two unpaid activists against a multibillion dollar corporation; the corporate can afford to pay huge legal fees where the activists cannot; and you don't get Legal Aid for libel in the UK; meaning that the defendants would either have to pay a lawyer themselves (which they couldn't do) or defend themselves in court or apologise against their will. This put them at a severe disadvantage in a court of law; this is not what most people would define as a "fair" trial.
The McLibel team spent around £30,000 on the case.
McDonald's spent about £10,000,000 on the case.
To add to that, McDonald's broke the law on at least three occasions to try and bring the case to court; they were responsible for burglary, they breached police confidentiality and they employed spies to infiltrate London Greenpeace.
Are you really saying that freedom of speech should only be in the hands of the companies rich enough to hire really good lawyers?; and that the common people should not be free to issue criticism backed up by the United Nations World Health Organisation (U.N. WHO)?
(you notice that McDonald's didn't try to sue the U.N. WHO for saying that a junk food diet was linked to ill health - they sued London Greenpeace for saying that a diet of McDonald's food was linked to ill health. Yet McDonald's in court said that they did not object to the description of their food as "junk food"!;
If they accept that their food is "junk food" (which they did) and they accept the UN conclusion that a diet of junk food can lead to illness (- their expert said "If it is being directed to the public then I would say it is a very reasonable thing to say."), then why did they try to sue London Greenpeace for saying that McDonald's food was linked to ill-health?
The fact remains; what the leaflet says was what you and everyone else knows to be true; McDonald's sell junk food; but McDonald's used the weaknesses in the UK libel laws to try and silence critics.
Heck, even McDonald's admit they sell junk food;
To quote a 1987 company memo;
"McDonald's should attempt to deflect the basic negative thrust of our critics.....How do we do this? By talking 'moderation and balance'. We can't really address or defend nutrition. We don't sell nutrition and people don't come to McDonald's for nutrition"."
If they admit amongst themselves that they sell food that isn't nutritious, why did they go to court over people saying so?