McDonald's libel defendants bring protest to U.S.

Reuters North American Wire, April 15, 1995

Defendants in a libel case filed by McDonald's Corp. in the United Kingdom took their cause to Chicago Saturday and waged their own "Mac Attack" on the international fast-food chain's 40th anniversary.

Dave Morris and Helen Steel, both of London, protested outside a McDonald's restaurant on Michigan Avenue. Morris stomped on a frosted, candle-bedecked birthday cake as sympathetic environmentalists waved placards accusing the company of exploiting workers, animals and the environment.

McDonald's had no immediate comment.

Morris and Steel planned a repeat performance of their protest in suburban Des Plaines at the site of McDonald's first restaurant, which is now a museum. The pair are members of London Greenpeace, an environmental group.

Morris said similar protests at 20 percent of McDonald's 550 restaurants in the United Kingdom also were planned.

The High Court began hearing the libel case last June against the two unemployed environmentalists, who are defending themselves. The case centers around a leaflet that accuses McDonald's of promoting an unhealthy diet, damaging the environment and exploiting its workers.

" McDonald's has taken advantage of harsh U.K. libel laws," Morris said. "They know the case would not last two minutes in an American court. "

He added, " McDonald's spends close to $ 1.4 billion worldwide on advertising and promoting a squeaky clean image. We're here to present an alternative point of view."

Morris and Steel said their trial, now in a three-week hiatus, may continue through the end of the year and go down in legal annals as "the longest libel trial in history."

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