The McLibel saga continues. The full McLibel Appeal has now been scheduled
to begin on January 12th 1999 (currently estimated to last 3 months), when
Helen Steel (32) and Dave Morris (44) will be in court once again to
challenge the use of libel laws as a form of censorship, and to overturn the
parts of the verdict which went against them. They will also be arguing that
the damning findings against McDonald's in the verdict of the trial judge Mr
Justice Bell (* see below) so destroyed the reputation of the fast food
chain that the Corporation's claim for libel should've been thrown out.
Pre-appeal arguments and controversies have already started with the defendants challenging the huge admin costs they are being expected to incur or face their Appeal being struck out. Their application for Legal Aid was refused on 15th July.
At a special hearing on Monday 27th July the McLibel defendants will be applying for an extension of time to lodge appeal bundles with the court. This involves sorting through, copying and filing 5 sets of around 40,000 pages of documents (for themselves, McDonald's and three appeal judges). The defendants are also applying for a dispensation from the requirement that they pay for transcripts of the trial to be delivered to the Court of Appeal direct from the transcribers (20,000 pages to each judge, at a cost of thousands of pounds), and will be putting forward alternative proposals.
If unsuccessful, the defendants may have only days to complete over 200,000 pages of photocopying and filing and drum up enough money to pay for both that and the bill for the transcripts. The penalty if they don't comply? The judges could strike out their Appeal. A convenient way to prevent the longest trial in English history from becoming the longest ever Appeal?
LIBERTY THIS WEEK ANNOUNCES THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE McLIBEL APPEAL:
" The absence of fairness at the trial and on Appeal in practice deny them
their right to freedom of expression. These rights are fundamental and we
are ready to challenge these violations in the European Court of Human
* APPEAL BACKGROUND
On June 19th 1997 Mr Justice Bell ruled that
McDonald's 'exploit children', deceptively promote their food as
'nutritious', risk the health of their long-term regular customers, are
'culpably responsible for animal cruelty' and pay 'low wages' - but found
for the company on some other points. Significantly McDonald's have not
appealed over these damning rulings against them. The McLibel 2 also intend
to take the British Govt. to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn
the UK's unfair and oppressive libel laws - challenging the denial of Legal
Aid and the right to a jury trial, and laws stacked in favour of Plaintiffs.
They will argue that multinational corporations should no longer be able to
sue for libel.