Subject: McLibel on CBS Evening News, July 22,1994
Date: July 22, 1994
This was the last and most strategically positioned segment on the Friday
evening news show. The one people would be inclined to remember.
BOB SCHIEFFER, anchor:
Well with the O.J. Simpson case heading for trial, there's been
a lot of talk about money and the law, about using wealth to tip the scales
of justice. The same issue is coming up in connection with a civil case
in Great Britain. In London's royal court, a big American corporation is
trying to throw the book at a couple of protesters who say they don't have
the money to even afford a lawyer. CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley has
SCOTT PELLEY, Reporting:
In the highest, hallowed halls of English justice, an American
institution is on trial. It's called the "McLibel case", the $24
billion McDonalds restaurant chain is suing two unemployed vegetarian Britons
who passed around a leaflet intended to blow the lid off Big Mac's empire.
MS. HELEN STEEL (Defendant):
They're threatening numerous groups in this country and individuals,
to silence them because they're desperate not to let the truth about their
practices be heard by the general public.
According to them, this is the truth, the pamphlet that incurred
the wrath of McDonalds. Under headlines like "McMurder" and "McCancer"
it claims that McDonalds is promoting a high-fat diet, tearing down rain
forests for cattle ranches and polluting with its packaging. Now in the
Royal High Court, McDonalds seeks to make hamburger of its accusers, producing
dozens of witnesses and reams of files on everything from heart desease
to the little paper wrappers on straws.
MS. EDDIE BENSILUM (McDonalds):
The leaflets and the allegations in the leaflets were gaining
currency, people were believing them to be true.
If convicted, the veggie commandos face fines and court costs
of more than $1 million. But still they refuse to be cowed. You don't expect
to win do you?
MR. DAVE MORRIS (Defendant):
We believe we've won already. We're putting our view over to
The Big Mac trial is expected to last months and it may be next
year before the English high court decided whether McDonalds has a beef.
Scott Pelley, CBS News, London.