Video shock in Big Mac licence bid

by Bidi van der Zee

Camden New Journal, Thursday 17 October 1996; UK

A CONTROVERSIAL late licence application by fast food giant, McDonald's is being filmed, after a shock ruling by Camden licensing committee this week.

The unprecedented decision came before councillors deferred for the third time the burger multi-nationals bid to secure a late-night cafe licence for their King's Cross branch - in the teeth of local opposition.

And during and extraodinary four-hour meeting on Tuesday night, one councillor walked out, when permission was granted for the video filming.

McDonald's represtatives asked Camden licensing committee for "a firm hand" in handling their application. Instead, the company found itself embroiled in a procedural wrangle over objectors request that they be allowed to video film proceedings. The nine-strong burger chain team strenuously argued against the surprise filming move.

McDonald's lwayer Philip Kolbil said: "I do not wish to have my image used to support a campaign against my client. The shots may be used to distort the real position." But the committee voted by four votes to three to allow filming, leading to Labour counciller Jerry Williams walk-out.

The video was being recorded by the McSpotlight Internet group, part of a Kings Cross based campaign supporting two defendants in the so-called "McLibel" defamation case started by the firm two years ago.

The two enviromental campaigners claim McDonald's contributes to the destruction of tropical rainforests, promotes unhealthy food, and employs underhand methods against critics and its own staff.

But Mr Kolbil told Tuesday nights meeeting; "Even supposing these accusations were true, they would not be relevant to a licence hearing."

But the committee decided the company's application for a night cafe licence for their New Oxford Street Branch also be adjourned until next Thursday.

The application for the King's Cross branch was deferred for a further week, after the committee were told by objectors that police had not yet given the go-ahead.

Their decisions came after four hours of debate over technical faults in McDonald's applications.

"We're not going to wait forever," Mr Kolbil told the committee, to which chairman Ernest James responded "in that case, it could be No."

See also :
  • Hitch for fast food giant - Camden & StPancras Chronicle, 17 Oct 96

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