20th June, 1996

Other attached reports:

  • Coming Events
  • Recent McLibel Trial Evidence
  • Notes to Editors

  • 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, UK.

    Tel/Fax +44-(0)171 713 1269

    on Friday 28th June 1996

    The McLibel Trial, between the $26 billion a year McDonald's Corporation and two supporters of London Greenpeace (Helen Steel & Dave Morris), began on 28th June 1994 and is now set to run to the end of 1996. It is already the longest civil case in British history: there have been 266 days in court so far. The previous longest libel trial lasted 101 days, and the previous longest civil case 198 days.

    The main reason that the case is taking so long is because McDonald's is alleging that every criticism in the Factsheet is libellous. Those criticisms are common sense views on matters of great public interest. Defending such views makes the case very wide-ranging and has resulted in 180 witnesses being called. Often, McDonald's is forcing Steel & Morris to prove the obvious - for example, that much of its packaging ends up as litter, that diet is linked to ill-health, and that McDonald's pays low wages to its workers.

    There will be a picket outside the High Court on 28th June this year (between 9.30am & 11.30am) to mark the second anniversary of the Trial. The McLibel Two will be present and will make a personal statement outside the court.


    The court is currently hearing evidence on 'Publication', in which McDonald's are trying to prove their assertion that Steel & Morris published and distributed the London Greenpeace Factsheet "What's Wrong With McDonald's?". Four of the seven private investigators employed by McDonald's to infiltrate London Greenpeace (Oct '89 to May '91) have recently given evidence, and have admitted distributing the Factsheet which is the subject of the libel action! The Defendants have formally submitted that McDonald's thereby consented to its publication.

    Another of the 'enquiry agents' who "felt very uncomfortable" infiltrating London Greenpeace and who "did not think there was anything wrong with what the group was doing" will be testifying for the Defence on Friday 28th June, the second anniversary.

    It has also been admitted recently during the cross-examination of Sid Nicholson (McDonald's UK Vice-President) that in addition to information obtained from enquiry agents, McDonald's received information on anti-McDonald's protestors from Special Branch (a division of the police) and the Economic League (a shadowy organisation which kept 'blacklists' of political and trade union activists).

    See attached reports of some of the recent evidence in the case on McDonald's connections with rainforest destruction, on the infiltration of London Greenpeace, and on McDonald's use of Special Branch and the Economic League.

    The court is open to members of the press and public, most days from 10.30am in Court 35, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2. Ring 0171 713 1269 for details - or look at the Come To Court page.


    Criticisms were aired at the Shareholders' Meeting of the McDonald's Corporation in Chicago on 23rd May 1996. Mike Quinlan (Chairman and Chief Executive) was harangued on whether it is in shareholders' best interests to continue pursuing the humiliating and disasterous McLibel law suit. He was asked: "How much money has the Corporation spent on the trial? Mr Quinlan said a year ago that it was "coming to a wrap soon" but it's now the longest civil case in British history and is still continuing at an estimated cost of $10,000 per day. Is it true that the Corporation is so worried about the way the case is going and the bad publicity the company is receiving that on two occasions members of the US Board of Directors have flown to London to meet the McLibel Two in a failed attempt to negotiate a settlement* to the case?" Mr Quinlan refused to answer the question! * See note (5) below.