The issues being aired daily in Court 35 are the links between diet and ill-health, the exploitation of low-paid non-unionised workers, the environmental damage caused by mountains of disposable packaging and by cattle ranching, the effects of advertising on children and the suffering of animals reared for the food industry. Effectively the tables have been turned and it's McDonald's and their business practices that are on trial.
McDonald's Dirty Tricks - In the past two weeks, four private detectives hired by McDonald's to infiltrate London Greenpeace have testified. The company has now admitted that it controversially engaged no less than seven spies, who got fully involved in the group, stole letters, secretly followed people home, and broke into the group's offices - a disgusting and sinister abuse of the friendly and open nature of the group. And what's more, they distributed the very leaflets that McDonald's are trying to suppress, so we have now formally claimed that McDonald's thereby consented to the leaflet's publication. Today 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.
McDonald's Plans Backfire - Despite spending $1.8 billion dollars worldwide annually on advertising and promotions, McDonald's has consistently sought to silence those wishing to put over an alternative point of view. However, McDonald's efforts to intimidate and silence its critics have completely backfired, and have only angered the public and strengthened the determination of campaigners here and all over the world. Over 1=BD million "What's Wrong With McDonald's" leaflets have been handed out to the public in the UK alone since the writs were first served on us and thousands of people have pledged to continue to circulate anti-McDonald's leaflets whatever the verdict at the end of the McLibel Trial. Leaflets have been translated into 24 different languages and are being distributed worldwide. On top of this there is now an internet website, 'McSpotlight', where comprehensive information about the trial and McDonald's can be accessed worldwide at the push of a button.
It is clear that the campaign and the distribution of anti-McDonald's leaflets are unstoppable, and the trial has only served to give them greater impetus and publicity.
McDonald's original official estimate was that the trial would last "3 to 4 weeks". But despite all the odds being stacked against us - for example: no Legal Aid, facing complex and unfair libel laws and being denied a jury trial - we have learned as we've gone along. McDonald's have brought their big guns into the witness box - over a dozen executives from Chicago and the UK, up to the level of President. They have been forced to make many admissions about McDonald's practices, and a great deal of previously secret information has been unearthed. This has provided a unique and vital insight into how multinational corporations - who dominate the world's economy - achieve and maintain their power.
This, along with the overwhelming public support and donations we've received, has given us the encouragement and strength to continue this "David vs Goliath" battle. We thank everyone who's expressed their concern and support.
McDonald's View of the Case - a confidential internal memo from McDonald's in Australia (leaked to the media and broadcast widely last year) revealed the Corporation's dilemma around the world with media coverage of the trial: "Contain it as a UK issue". "We could worsen the controversy by adding our opinion". "We want to keep it at arms length - not become guilty by association". "This will not be a positive story for McDonald's Australia". The aim is to "minimise any further negative publicity".
Settlement Negotiations - McDonald's at their own initiative have twice arranged negotiations with us in order to pursue ways of ending the case. Members of their US Board of Directors have flown into London at 24 hours notice to meet with us. Our position remains that they should give an undertaking not to sue anyone again over similar statements to those made by London Greenpeace.
We would not like to see a repetition of such a case again - it's the public's right to criticise the practices of multinational corporations who dominate our lives, the world's economy and the environment. We call for the abolition of the right of multinational corporations to be able to sue for libel. Our aim is a society based on sharing and cooperation, where people, animals and the environment are not seen as the means for a minority to make their profits.
Helen Steel (30) & Dave Morris (42)
The McLibel 2