March 25,1994

Today the Court of appeal (Lord Justice Neill, Steyn, and Gibson) ruled that the "McLibel 2" would not be allowed a jury at their trial.

The "McLibel 2" are the defendants in a libel case brought by McDonalds corporation over a leaflet produced by London Greenpeace. the trial is expected to last 2-3 months. The Appeals court upheld the decision of Justice Bell, at a hearing last December, to deny a jury trial. McDonalds applied for the trial to be heard without a jury arguing that issues of the links between diet and ill health would be too complex for the jury to understand.

The Appeal Court rejected the defense arguments put by Patrick Milmo QC who was acting pro bono at the request of Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties. He argued that the 2 defendants, who would be un-represented at trial were up against a huge multi-national corporation in a case of great public importance, and it was therefore in the public interest that the case be tried by a jury. He also argued that McDonalds had greatly inflated the extent of scientific examination needed at the trial, and indeed, the major "scientific issues" of the link between diet and cancer was admitted in one of their own publications.

The defendants are considering an appeal application to the House of Lords over the right to a jury.


The second part of the defendants appeal was successful - parts of the defendants case which Justice Bell had struck out last November have been restored. This means that McDonalds would therefore have to hand over the relevant documents in their possession, which they have so far withheld, and to answer questions put by the defendants last July. This may further put off the start of the trial. After the hearing the defendants said: "The Court has ruled that the issues in the case are too complex for a jury to understand. In fact the issues are ones which are frequently in the public eye, and they are quite capable of understanding them. McDonalds seems to be scared of the public. We believe that a jury would likely be outraged that this case was ever brought at all. Libel laws are stacked against freedom of speech and against ordinary members of the public - but we are determined to defend the public's right to criticize multinationals."



April 29, 1995

Burger Giant responds with new propaganda campaign after an eventful and controversial week of behind-the-scenes legal disputes in the McDonald's libel case proceedings, the starting date for the High Court trial has been postponed to 27th June.

The two unwaged defendants, London Greenpeace supporters Helen Steel (28) and David Morris (40), have lodged a petition to the House of Lords for the right to a jury trial. Last month the Court of Appeal denied the right to a jury after McDonald's claimed that the issue of the links between diet and ill-health were too complex for members of the public (jury) to understand. But the McLibel 2, backed by Liberty (the British civil rights organisation), are determined to fight for their legal rights. A decision by the House of Lords on whether they will hear an Appeal will be made in the next 10 days. If the Two get leave for an appeal hearing, then the unwaged defendants have 7 days to lodge 18,000 Pounds Sterling security or the appeal cannot go ahead. This security can be waived if McDonald's agree, but so far they have refused to do so.


On Thursday 21st April the defendants, representing themselves as they have done at over 20 pre-trial hearings so far, alleged in Court that McDonald's have engaged in a huge "Cover Up" by withholding or destroying documents relevant to the issues in dispute - particularly regarding the company's use of beef from cattle reared on ex-rainforest land, and about international disputes with employees and trade unions.

The two environmentalists, facing McDonald's counsel, top libel lawyer Richard Rampant QC, argued that the fast food chain's claims that they had no documents were implausible. Justice Bell ordered company chiefs Ray Cesca (Director of Global Purchasing for the Corporation), Stan Stein (the Corporation's Senior Vice President of Personnel and Labour Relations) and Sid Nicholson (UK Vice President and Ombudsman) to swear written statements (affidavits) about the existence or otherwise of all the documents the defendants had listed and were seeking under their right to "Discovery". This Order has been described by legal experts as "unusual".


On Tuesday 26th April, Michael Quinlan, Chair and Chief Executive of the burger chain, claimed to the Institute of Directors (IOD) that McDonald's would double the number of UK stores "within 10 years". At the same time as he was speaking to the IOD conference, a leaflet produced by former Margaret Thatcher aide Mike Love (now Head of Communications at McDonald's) was being distributed nationwide to customers at the company's stores.

The leaflet is headed "Why McDonald's Is Going To Court" and attacks London Greenpeace, claiming that their "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflet (the subject of the libel action) is "lies", and complaining that it has been distributed worldwide since 1984. The 3-month long High Court trial due to start at the end of June will show that it is the Corporation itself, with an annual advertising and promotions budget of over $1 billion, that has been "economical with the truth" about its business practices.

Highlights of the trial, through the testimony of 87 McDonald's witnesses (including their UK President, and many Vice Presidents) and 70 defence witnesses, will include claims about the use of cattle reared on ex-rainforest land, exploitation of staff and opposition to workers' rights, the selling of unhealthy food, outbreaks of food poisoning caused by burgers, the use of advertising and gimmicks to entice children into their stores, the responsibility for the cruel deaths of billions of animals, and the use of mountains of packaging which is damaging to the environment.