Egg McMuffin on Ronald's Face

Steve Dixon unearths the best of the Web's cyber-bytes

EatSoup magazine, Dec 96 / Jan 97; UK

McDonald's is in a right dill pickle with the McLibel trial being splashed all over the Internet at McSpotlight, the anti-McDonald's Web site.

Subversives from the anti-McDonald's McInformation Network are tacking their own McSpotlight web address onto the company's adverts. Tee hee. For once, all that bollocks about the Internet and free speech is completely justified, well almost.

Most Web sites are a waste of Cyberspace. However, McSpotlight has over 1800 files and 40 megabytes of data. Visitors can access hectares of stuff about rainforests and beefburgers and everything about the epic McLibel trial. (For an update see the EatSoup news pages.)

The trial is both the longest libel trial and the longest civil case in British legal history. The judge's verdict on two-and-a-half years of his life is expected in January '97. In June '94, McDonald's took action against members of London Greenpeace (no relation) over the pamphlet 'Whats Wrong With McDonald's'.

Three members apologised rather than face the transnational's legal eagles in court. Helen Steel and Dave Morris decided to fight McDonald's, despite not getting any legal aid. The McLibel Two's total income is under 7000. They are conducting their own defence. There is no jury. McDonald's side convinced the judge that a jury would find the evidence altogether too complicated.

McDonald's alleges that Steel and Morris distributed the What's Wrong... pamphlet that accuses McDonald's of selling food that causes heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The pamphlet also alleges that McDonald's abuses workers, animals and the environment.

The McLibel Two are not alone. The McInformation Network has distributed 1.5 million copies of the pamphlet and the numbers continue to rise. McSpotlight got one million hits in its first month. 1800 by McDonald's in week one. World days of action against McDonald's happen every 16 October.

McDonald's has admitted infiltrating London Greenpeace in court. "Just call me Ben" at McSpotlight says he has no way of knowing if it has been infiltrated. Is he paranoid? "No, but I'm getting that way," he laughs.

McSpotlight newcomers get guided tours. There are real audio interviews with the McLibel Two. McQuiz is a satirical cross-examination of McDonald's executives based on their trial evidence. But best of all is a guided tour of McDonald's own website.

McSpotlight's powerful search engine quickly fins the leaked highly confidential crisis management memo about handling an Australian McLibel documentary.

Fancy some bad press cuttings? How about a real Ronald McDonald who is threatening to sue McDonald's for defamation of his clan's character? Mr McDonald is incensed by McDonald's trying to stop a cafe being called McMunchies.

The judge's verdict will include over 30 separate decisions on claims and counter claims. If they lose, the McLibel Two will probably drag McDonald's to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that they did not have a fair trial without a jury. Win, lose or draw, that clown Ronald McDonald will get yet more Egg McMuffin all over his face.

McSpotlight is at http://www.mcspotlight.org

David and McGoliath: Latest
  • As the two-and-a-half year McLibel trial - roumoured to have cost the company over $16 million - entered its final, final stages in late October, Steve Dixon trawled the Internet for the latest news and views. 'Day six of closing speech for the defence, October 28, 1996 - Day 288 of the trial', Oh yes, it's all here. And so is an important disclaimer saying that the information has not been checked for accuracy against the transcripts.

    The latest update of the 12th world-wide anti-McDonald's day on October 16 reports that protesters leafleted some 250 UK stores. Reggie the Veggie defended Daisy the Cow from an evil chainsaw-wielding Ronald McDonald in Manchester. In Chicago, protesters demanded that Beatles statues be removed from a McDonald's restaurant because Paul and George are veggies, and Paul and Linda help to fund the McLibel campaign.

    McDonald's has a web site, but this information comes from McSpotlight, the anti-McDonald's web site. Read all about it on page 160.


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