3rd January 1996
5 Caledonian Road
Mike Love, for McDonald's, complained (letters 28/12/95) of an 'inaccurate
and misleading' article by Tariq Tahir (19/12/95) about the current
McDonald's libel action. Obviously I disagree with Mr Love's analysis of
the effect of the evidence given in court, and also with the reasons he gave
for bringing the case, but I am writing in particular to correct some of the
more misleading statements he made.
- Mr Love says McDonald's only brought this case after ten years of trying
to settle the matter out of court. The reality is that McDonald's never
communicated with me, my co-defendant or London Greenpeace about the leaflet
until the 21st September 1990 when the company served libel writs on us.
Ten years before the company began the action I was only 15, still at
school, and, as amazing as it may now seem, I don't think I had even heard
- Mr Love implies the article was wrong to suggest that McDonald's was
surprised by the length of the trial. If, as he claims, McDonald's "always
knew this would be a long case", perhaps he can explain why, during their
application for a trial without a jury, Richard Rampton (McDonald's QC) told
the Judge he expected the trial to take 3-4 weeks (as correctly reported in
your article). Incidentally, I believe we told Mr Tahir that about 80
witnesses had so far given evidence, so I presume the 180 in the original
article was a misprint.
- It was entirely McDonald's choice to go back on their earlier promise to
provide daily transcripts of the trial, and contrary to what is suggested by
Mr Love's letter, there is no legal ruling which prevents them providing us
with copies. McDonald's wanted us to give a written undertaking which,
amongst other things, would have prevented us from showing or reading any
extract of any transcript to any journalist. No such restriction applies to
McDonald's, or to anyone else who purchases the transcripts. When we
refused to give the undertaking, McDonald's withdrew the transcripts.
Naturally we feel that this was an attempt to stifle publicity about the
case and prevent us giving people accurate information about the evidence
given in court. If, as Mr Love claims, McDonald's wishes above all to
ensure that the public know the truth, why do they seem so anxious to
prevent the public from hearing what is said in open court?
- Helen Steel
- Defendant in McDonald's libel action