- McLibel -

Justice and the State

Posted by: Danny ( Brighton, UK ) on June 20, 1997 at 16:45:43:

Getting away from burger-lovers slagging off veggies and so on, the McLibel case has raised some interesting questions about our attitudes to justice and the state. Surely it must be a little disappointing for the whole McLibel campaign (not just Helen and Dave) to have ended with what's basically a pretty poxy verdict from Bell when for three years they've been attempting to prove their point in terms of British "justice". A lot of effort has gone into witnesses, transcripts, arcane legal points and so forth. At this point, is it consistent to turn around and say "can't pay, won't pay" or ignore the verdict of the court and continue to insist on the validity of your claims?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting H & D should pay up, nor that McDs are anything less than another scumbag multinational. I'm just interested in what anti-McDs campaigners attitudes are to engaging the state on its own terms. Would it have been possible for Helen and Dave to refuse to apologise and also refuse to attend the trial and then refuse whatever punishment they were meted out? Could the anti-McDs campaign continued in the absence of the publicity of the trial?

The overall media view seems to be well, they weren't quite right, but they put up a fight, plucky little radicals, etc. Some of the campaign's publicity has centered around the "unfairness" of the trial: lack of legal aid, no jury etc, as if to imply that had H & D had a lawyer and a jury, then the resulting verdict would have been utterly "fair". How many innocent Irishmen have been jailed in the presence of their lawyers and a jury?

I suspect that, as with most broad-based campaigns these issues are being fudged. What I'd like to see is some honest campaigners' reactions to these questions. Now that the verdict is out, this is the time to discuss these questions.

Massive respect to Helen and Dave and I hope the weather on Saturday is nicer than it is now!


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