Joint Press Release 19th May 97 from
The National Anti-Hunt Campaign, McLibel Support Campaign,
London Greenpeace and McSpotlight


There can be few people who have not heard of McLibel - the longest trial in English history in which McDonald’s are suing two London Greenpeace supporters (Helen Steel and Dave Morris) over the now infamous “What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?” factsheet.

Many companies find that the threat of a libel writ is sufficient to make their opponents back down (McDonald’s had used this tactic successfully in dozens of cases prior to meeting their match in Helen and Dave). The money and resources needed to fight a libel case are such that people often apply self-censorship rather than risk going to court.

But big business doesn’t always have its own way - McDonald’s attempt to silence their critics has not only failed but turned into a public relations nightmare. Instead of stopping the London Greenpeace leaflets the McLibel case turned the spotlight on McDonald's business practices. The trial received world wide media attention and spawned the McSpotlight Internet site (, a book by John Vidal, and two TV documentaries (the first of which ‘McLibel!’ produced by Dennis Woolf was shown on Channel 4 this weekend) and the grassroots campaign against McDonald’s world-wide has gone from strength to strength.

Many people considered that after McDonald’s embarrassing experience, no other company would be foolish enough to use the threat of libel action as a means to silence campaigners. But apparently not....

John Lewis plc served libel writs on Niel Hansen of the National Anti-Hunt Campaign on May 1st over a leaflet titled "John Lewis Wildlife Killers" in which it was reported that the John Lewis Partners own a number of shooting estates at which staff shoot birds for fun.

The plaintiff’s Statement of Claim reveals that the basic claims in the offending leaflet are not disputed, only specific and irrelevant details (like the number of birds shot and the number of times per week on average that the estate is used). Such a weak case is typical of libel threats of this type, where the company assumes that the accused will be brow beaten into settling out of court rather than face an expensive and drawn out court battle.

It is clearly an attempt by John Lewis plc to (mis)use the UK’s libel laws to censor the National Anti-Hunt Campaign. This blatant attack on free speech must not be allowed to succeed. The NAHC is calling on its supporters to continue handing out the leaflet and to defy this outrageous legal bullying.

London Greenpeace has produced a new leaflet (titled "No More McLibels") to help raise awareness of the situation and encourage others to join the campaign of defiance.

McSpotlight has made the details of the case available on the Internet and will continue to provide the latest news about the case as time goes by.

The McLibel Support Campaign will be assisting the NAHC to ensure that the truth is not covered up. It will be informing its supporters about the situation and offering Niel Hansen advice on how to proceed.

It seems that John Lewis plc may have taken on more than they bargained for.


The National Anti-Hunt Campaign was founded in 1992. It organised Britains largest ever marches against bloodsports and has collected over 1.3 million signatures for a ban of hunting - the biggest petition on animal welfare issues ever collected.

The McLibel Support Campaign was set up to generate solidarity and backing for the McLibel defendants, to raise the funds needed to fight the case and to publicise the issues in the trial.
c/o 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX - Tel/Fax 0171 713 1269

London Greenpeace is the original Greenpeace group in the UK and has campaigned on environmental and social justice issues since the early 1970's. It is run as an open collective and is independent of Greenpeace International.
5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX - Tel. 0171 837 7557

Launched in Feb 1996, this Internet site is dedicated to exposing the truth about corporations, such as McDonald's, which dominate our lives. It is accessed over 1 million times each month and contains over 21,000 files (including the full transcripts from the McLibel trial). The John Lewis writ, Statement of Claim and aforementioned leaflets are also available from McSpotlight.

[ Followup Press Release ] [ John Lewis vs. NAHC top page ]