1st May, 1996
McSpotlight Press Release
5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, UK.
Tel/Fax +44-(0)171 713 1269
MR BIG MAC TO BE GRILLED BY McLIBEL TWO
Paul Preston, McDonald's UK President and Chief Executive*, is returning to
the witness box for further cross-examination by the McLibel Two (Helen
Steel & Dave Morris). Preston will be in the stand on Tues 7th, Thurs 9th,
& Fri 10th May.
Mr Preston started his evidence in the first week of the McLibel Trial (link to the Case) in
June 1994 (see extracts from his earlier testimony below) but
cross-examination was postponed before its completion, at McDonald's request.
On his return to the witness box, Mr Preston will be questioned by Steel &
Morris about the company's record on food safety, nutrition, the
environment, animal welfare, workers rights and advertising to children. He
will also be quizzed about why the company brought the libel action against
the two and why, on the eve of trial, McDonald's printed 300,000 leaflets -
which were then made available nationwide in their stores - calling their
critics liars. The leaflets, and company press releases in a similar vein,
resulted in the Defendants launching a counterclaim for libel against
* Mr Preston is also Senior Vice President of the McDonald's Corporation.
LONGEST BRITISH CIVIL TRIAL REACHES 250th DAY
On or around 16th May, the McLibel Trial will have been in court for 250
days. The trial began in June 1994 and is scheduled to continue until the
end of 1996. It is already the longest civil case in British history. The
previous longest libel trial lasted 101 days, and the previous longest civil
case 198 days.
The main reason that the case is taking so long is because McDonald's is
alleging that every criticism in the Factsheet is libellous - this makes the
case very wide-ranging and has resulted in 180 witnesses being called.
Those criticisms are common sense views on matters of great public interest.
Often, McDonald's is forcing Steel & Morris to prove the obvious - for
example, that much of its packaging ends up as litter, that diet is linked
to ill-health, and that McDonald's pays low wages to its crew members.
GREAT McQUOTES OF UK PRESIDENT SO FAR
Incredibly, Paul Preston (McDonald's UK President) claimed that the
character Ronald McDonald is intended not to "sell food" to children, but to
promote the "McDonald's experience". But an extract from the corporation's
official and confidential 'Operations Manual' was read out: "Ronald loves
McDonald's and McDonald's food. And so do children, because they love
Ronald. Remember, children exert a phenomenal influence when it comes to
restaurant selection. This means you should do everything you can to appeal
to children's love for Ronald and McDonald's." It was revealed in court
that Geoffrey Guiliano, a Ronald McDonald actor in the 1980's, had quit and
publicly apologised, stating "I brainwashed youngsters into doing wrong. I
want to say sorry to children everywhere for selling out to concerns who
make millions by murdering animals".
Paul Preston said that if one million customers each bought a soft drink,
he would not expect more than 150 cups to end up as litter. Photographs
were then put to him, showing 27 pieces of McDonald's litter in one stretch
of pavement alone (at the time the company had over 500 stores in the UK and
served a million customers each day).
Paul Preston said he did not consider the 1994 starting wage of 3.10
pounds an hour for crew members to be low pay, however, when asked, he
refused to reveal his own salary. When asked why the company couldn't pay
higher wages to crew members out of the $1 billion profits it made last
year, he claimed that "people are paid a wage for the job they do", even
though he had earlier agreed that crew members worked hard and their job was
more physically demanding than his own. When asked if the company could use
its $1 billion advertising budget to pay higher wages, he stated that
without advertising the company would have "no business".
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The McLibel Trial is a mammoth legal battle between the $26 billion a
year McDonald's Corporation and two supporters of London Greenpeace - Helen
Steel (30) and Dave Morris (42) - who between them have an annual income of
less than 7,000 pounds. McDonald's are suing Steel & Morris for libel over
a factsheet produced by London Greenpeace, entitled "What's Wrong With
McDonald's", which McDonald's allege they distributed in 1989/90.
- The Trial began on 28th June 1994 and became the longest civil case in
British history in December 1995. A total of approximately 180 witnesses
from the UK and around the world are giving evidence in court about the
effects of the company's operations on the environment, on human health, on
millions of farmed animals, on the Third World, and on McDonald's' own
staff (The Issues). They include environmental and nutritional experts, trade unionists,
animal welfare experts, McDonald's employees, top executives, and four
infiltrators employed by McDonald's. The Trial is set to run until the end
- Steel & Morris were denied their right to a jury trial and, with no
right to Legal Aid, are forced to conduct their own defence against
McDonald's team of top libel lawyers.
- After McDonald's issued leaflets nationwide calling their critics
liars, the Defendants took out a counterclaim for libel against McDonald's
which is running concurrently with McDonald's libel action.
- At the time of the first anniversary of the Trial (June 1995), it was
widely reported that McDonald's had initiated secret settlement negotiations
with Steel & Morris. They twice flew members of their US Board of Directors
to London to meet with the Defendants to seek ways of ending the case.
McDonald's are clearly very worried about the way the case is going for them
and the bad publicity they are receiving.
- It's clear that McDonald's aim of suppressing the "What's Wrong With
McDonald's" leaflet has totally backfired. Over 1.5 million leaflets have
been handed out to the public in the UK alone since the action was started
and thousands of people have pledged to continue circulating the leaflets
whatever the verdict. Protests and campaigns against McDonald's continue in
over 24 countries. And now there is an internet site called 'McSpotlight',
an on-line library and campaigning tool, which makes available across the
globe 1,800 separate files containing everything that McDonald's don't want
the public to know (http://www.mcspotlight.org/). McSpotlight was accessed
over a million times in its first month.
McSpotlight Press Release