[McLibel] Legal update Nov '99

From: McSpotlight (info@mcspotlight.org)
Date: Sun Mar 05 2000 - 15:53:50 GMT

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                   posted by:

                   McLibel Support Campaign/ London Greenpeace
                   post: 5 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9DX, UK
                   tel/fax: +44 (0) 171 713 1269
                   email: mclibel@globalnet.co.uk
                   web: www.mcspotlight.org


    - House of Lords/ European court
    - Helen & Dave suing the police
    - 'McCruelty To Go'
    - Advertising to Children

    HOUSE OF LORDS/ EUROPEAN COURT: In March this year the McLibel Appeal
    resulted in further important victories for campaigners. The Defendants have
    now lodged a petition to the House of Lords, and after that will go to the
    European Court of Human Rights if necessary to seek to overturn the UK's
    oppressive libel laws.

    Helen and Dave, representing themselves, are seeking to defend the public's
    right to criticise companies whose business practices affect people's lives,
    health and environment, arguing that multinational corporations should no
    longer be able to sue for libel. They will also argue that publishing
    material about matters of public importance and interest should be protected
    by 'qualified privilege' - a point related to the matters currently being
    heard by the House of Lords in the libel case of the former Irish Prime
    Minister Albert Reynolds vs The Sunday Times. Helen and Dave also seek an
    end to unfair and oppressive defamation laws and procedures.

    But most importantly for McDonald's they are seeking leave to argue that,
    having now won the bulk of the issues in dispute with the fast-food
    corporation, they should have won the case outright. After a controversial
    314 day trial ending in June 1997, in which the defendants had been denied
    Legal Aid and their right to a jury trial, Mr Justice Bell ruled that:
    McDonald's marketing has "pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which
    their food (high in fat & salt etc) did not match"; that McDonald's "exploit
    children" with their advertising strategy; are "culpably responsible for
    animal cruelty"; and "pay low wages, helping to depress wages in the
    catering trade." Significantly McDonald's did not appeal over these damning
    rulings against their core business practices, stating that the Judge was
    'correct in his conclusions'! [McDonald's written submissions 5.1.99]. The
    McLibel 2 failed to convince the judge on all issues, however, and so appealed.

    On March 31st the Court of Appeal added to those damning findings, after a
    23-day hearing earlier this year. Lord Justices Pill, May and Keane ruled
    that it was fair comment to say that McDonald's employees worldwide "do
    badly in terms of pay and conditions", and true that "if one eats enough
    McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat etc., with the very
    real risk of heart disease.'" But despite these further findings the Appeal
    Court only reduced Mr Justice Bell's original award of 60,000 pounds
    damages to McDonald's (who'd spent an estimated 10m on the case) by
    20,000. The defendants believe, and will argue that it is an outrage that
    McDonald's has been awarded any damages at all in the light of all the
    serious findings made against the company and the fact that no sanctions
    have been taken against them.

    McLibel Trial general:


    SUING THE COPS: In September 1998 Helen and Dave launched proceedings
    against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, claiming damages for
    misfeasance in public office, breach of confidence and breach of their right
    to privacy. Their claim results from actions of police officers, including
    Special Branch officers, which came to light as a result of the McLibel
    trial. Police officers had passed private and in some cases false
    information about the McLibel 2 (and some other protestors), including their
    home addresses, to McDonald's and to private investigators hired by
    McDonald's to infiltrate London Greenpeace.

    During the trial Sid Nicholson, McDonald's Head of Security and a former Met
    Chief Superintendent, stated from the witness box that McDonald's security
    department were 'all ex-policemen' and if he ever wanted to know information
    about protestors he would go to his contacts in the police. This collusion
    between the police and a multinational corporation against members of the
    public exposes the political role of the police in ensuring the wheels of
    big business keep turning. The case is expected to be heard later this year.

    Exclusive interview with one of McDonald's spies:

    PETA's "McCRUELTY TO GO" CAMPAIGN: In October in the USA, People For The
     Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) launched a nationwide billboard poster
    campaign attacking Ronald McDonald's as 'The US No 1 Serial Killer' (in
    they said to the McLibel verdict), with pictures of slaughtered chickens and
    cows. When their UK branch publicised their intent to do the same in England
    they were told by the regulatory authorities that they would be banned. This
    year for the first time PETA joined the international anti-McDonald's
    protests on October 16th.

    PETA's site:

    Ronald McDonald supports Peta's campaign (!):

    ADVERTISING TO CHILDREN: To expose the hypocrisy of the advertising industry,
    and in the light of the McLibel ruling that McDonald's exploit children,
    the McLibel
    Support Campaign is calling on the public to send in letters to the Independent
    Television Commission calling for a ban on all McDonald's advertising to
    children. A 'standard letter' is available, or do your own. Legal action
    against the ITC to achieve this is now being prepared.


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