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Chief Justice Bell's Verdict
19th June 1997

McDonald's Corporation
First Plaintiff
McDonald's Restaurants Limited
Second Plaintiff
Helen Marie Steel
First Defendant
David Morris
Second Defendant
The Hon. Mr Justice Bell

(read in Open Court on Thursday, 19th June 1997)

Section 5 of the Defamation Act 1952

Section 5 of the Defamation Act 1952, provides that in an action for libel like this action, where the Plaintiffs' claims have been brought in respect of words containing distinct charges, the Defendants' defence of justification shall not fail by reason only that the truth of every charge is not proved, if the words not proved to be true do not materially injure the Plaintiffs' reputations having regard to the truth of the remaining charges.

However, the serious charges which have not been justified including particularly those relating to being blamed for starvation in the Third World and for destruction of rainforest and knowingly selling food with the serious risk of damaging their customers' health do materially injure the Plaintiffs' reputations, even giving full weight to the matters which have been shown to be true, distinct charges or not. The result is that section 5 cannot save the Defendants from awards of damages in favour of the Plaintiffs.

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