> Am I missing something here? The two defendants, who neither wrote
> nor distributed the 'offending' leaflet, have been found 'guilty' of
> libelling McDonalds. An ominous legal precedent?
>> The Judge ruled that both Dave Morris and Helen Steel had been
>> involved in the production and distribution of the leaflet.
>> They said they weren't.
The evidence of the spies failed to link eiher Helen or Dave with production or distribution. Infact McDonald's dropped their case on Helen for production when they conceeded that she could not have been involved because she was not in the group at the time. Another activists orginally served with a writ testified that he was the person that ran the campaign but never-the-less, the judge decided that because Helen and Dave were active in the group responsible for the leaflet- they must be responsible themselves.
I don't see this as a ominous legal precedent - I see it as illegal!
The judge left the issue of publication till the end of the trial. Nearly three years had already been wasted in court and he had earned almost £300,000 before this issue was covered. If he had then found that publication and distribution has not been proved, the entire case would have been seen as a farce and he may have been blamed.
Helen and Dave stood up to defend the factsheet, not because it was theirs, but because McDonald's bought the case and they refused to be intimidated. They choose to defend what they believed in against a law the is notorious for being arcane and biased towards the rich.
Congratulations to them on a job well done.