[McLibel] Met Police Pay £10,000 to McLibel 2

From: McSpotlight (info@mcspotlight.org)
Date: Wed Jul 05 2000 - 16:43:13 GMT

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    McLibel Support Campaign
    P R E S S . R E L E A S E . 05/07/00

    MET POLICE PAY £10,000 TO

    McLibel Support Campaign 5 Caledonian Road, London, N1, UK.
    Tel/Fax (020) 7713 1269 E-mail: mclibel@globalnet.co.uk Info at:
    www.mcspotlight.org ________________________________

    5th July 2000

    Commissioner forced to agree to alert all officers not to pass on
    confidential data 6 years after the McLibel trial started on 28th June
    1994, the High Court has sealed an out of court settlement order in
    a separate case brought by the McLibel 2. Helen Steel (34) and
    Dave Morris (46), launched proceedings on 17th September 1998
    against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and Detective
    Sergeant David Valentine, over their disclosure of confidential
    information to McDonald's, claiming damages for misfeasance in
    public office, breach of confidence and breach of their right to

    The trial had been set to start last month, but in order to avoid what
    they called 'a difficult and lengthy trial' the Met agreed to pay
    £10,000 to the McLibel 2, plus their legal costs, and most
    significantly 'to bring this settlement to the attention of the 3 Area
    Commanders of the Metropolitan Police Force and ask them to
    remind their officers of their responsibility not to disclose
    on the Police National Computer to a third party.' Under the consent
    order finalised today, DS Valentine also stated he 'regretted any
    distress of the claimants caused by the disclosure of their details' to
    a private investigator hired by McDonald's to infiltrate London

    It emerged during the McLibel trial that police (including Special
    Branch) officers had passed private and in some cases false
    information about the McLibel 2 (and other protestors), including
    home addresses, to McDonald's and to their private investigator.

    Sid Nicholson, McDonald's Head of Security and a former Met Chief
    Superintendent, had 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 (day 249 of the trial, transcripts p38).

    The McLibel 2 said today: "At the 11th hour the police pulled out of
    facing a case which would've demonstrated illegal police practices.
    In recent years there have been a number of publicised incidents of
    the police passing information about campaigners to private
    companies. It's clear that their claim to be impartial defenders of the
    public is a hollow one. This collusion reveals the political role of the

    police in ensuring the wheels of big business keep turning. This
    case has forced the Met to warn all London police officers against
    such practices."

    McDonald's issued writs for libel against the McLibel 2 in
    September 1990 alleging they had been libelled in the London
    Greenpeace factsheet: ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?. On June
    19th 1997, after a trial lasting 314 days (the longest in English legal
    history), 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."

    On March 31st 1999 the Court of Appeal added to those damning
    findings. 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.'" However, largely on the basis of
    a legalistic and semantic interpretation of the leaflet, the Courts
    ruled that the McLibel 2 had libelled McDonald's over some points
    and ordered them to pay damages to the company.

    The McLibel 2 are currently preparing a case to go before the
    European Court of Human Rights, seeking to defend the public's
    right to criticise companies whose business practices affect
    people's lives, health and the environment, arguing that multinational
    corporations should no longer be able to sue for libel. They also
    seek an end to unfair and oppressive defamation laws and
    procedures in general, and in their case in particular. This follows
    the refusal, in April 2000, of the House of Lords to allow them leave
    for a full appeal to be heard there over the remaining issues and the
    basic principles of libel law.

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