LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
McDonald's Libel Case
I was concerned to read Tariq Tahir's article (19 December) regarding a High Court libel action, which McDonald's has brought. The article drew on a selective account of some of the evidence given in the case and is, consequently, inaccurate and misleading.
- McDonald's only brought this case after ten years of trying to settle the matter out of court. As a last resort, therefore, it had to take the matter to court.
- The article suggests that we are surprised by the length of the trial. With 150 witnesses originally scheduled to give evidence, we always knew that this would be a long case. You have also gravely exaggerated the number of witnesses called so far. The true figure is 87, not 180.
- The suggestion that McDonald's own literature backs up the defendants' allegation about the effect of McDonald's food on the health of customers is based on selective and misleading use of a statement which bears no relevance to the truth of the allegations made.
- The article states that the defendants believe that the case has only lasted so long because their allegations about McDonald's are true. On the contrary, we believe that the evidence provided by expert and other witnesses, both from McDonald's and outside the company, demonstrates that the allegations are untrue.
- The article suggests that the defendants have, "subtly turned the tables on McDonald's and caused the company to defend it's reputation". This is simply not the case. This action has always been about defending our reputation, since we believe that a good reputation is worth defending, particularly against serious allegations such as these.
- The claim that we have, "reneged on an earlier promise", to provide daily photocopies of the court transcripts to the defendants is incorrect. At the start of this case we took an unusual step of agreeing to meet the defendants' costs of receiving daily transcripts. The Court of Appeal agreed that they should only be used to help the defendants prepare their defence, not for publicity purposes. Since the defendants refused to agree to this, we had no choice but to stop paying for their transcripts.
McDonald's has taken legal action in this case to protect the reputation of the company and the livelihoods of our franchises, employees and suppliers. Above all, we wish to ensure that out customers and the public know the truth.