- McSpotlight -

Libel Writs?

Posted by: William ( US ) on June 08, 1999 at 10:44:59:

Actually i just have a question

Id like to know exactly what Libel Writs is....
What it involves...etc.


McSpotlight: A libel writ is basically a document that says "you said untrue and damaging things about me/us (which is called "libel") - so either apologise or I/we will take you to court to obtain compensation.

It's something a big company can do far more effectively than a person; if the issues are not totally clear, the verdict is usually in favour of whoever has the best lawyers. And McDonald's have enough money behind them to hire the very best lawyers; the people who dare to criticize McDonald's are usually much smaller groups who can't afford good lawyers (if they can afford lawyers at all).

McDonald's know this; they can wear down critics by threatening them with a libel writ; most people or groups have assets to lose and will just back down and apologise rather than face McDonald's lawyers in court. McDonald's used this tactic to silence their critics in this country; you can see a short list of writs issued here - against individuals like Chrissie Hynde and Morrisey and also organisations like the BBC or the Guardian newspaper.

They made the mistake of trying this with two unemployed green activists (Helen Steel and Dave Morris) - who decided that they wouldn't apologise; that they had virtually no assets to lose anyway and that they would not apologise for saying what they believed to be the truth.

The result was the McLibel Trial; the biggest PR disaster a company has ever brought upon itself.

Following their humiliation in the courts, McDonald's has ceased issuing writs against critics in the UK.

In the 20 years before the McLibel trial, McDonald's issued over 30 libel writs against critics. In the 5 years since the trial began, the company has issued none (as far as we know).

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