Financial Times; 19th July 1997

McDonald's has abandoned legal efforts to halt distribution of critical leaflets or to collect damages it was awarded after a record-breaking libel trial.

The decision not to pursue either matter casts further doubt on McDonald's "victory" in its 313-day libel case against two environmental activists in spite of the verdict in its favour. The deadline to seek an injunction against further distribution of "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets or to seek an order for costs passed on Thursday. The trial was widely interpreted as a public relations disaster for McDonald's because its business practices were closely scrutinised. Its legal costs exceeded #10m.

The US company and its UK subsidiary were awarded #60,000 in damages last month, but the High Court judge found some of the defendants' criticisms were justified. Ms Helen Steel and Mr David Morris, who conducted their own defence, said they could not afford to pay the damages. McDonald's said yesterday the trial had achieved its purpose. Mr Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour MP, yesterday tabled two Commons motions, one calling for "sanctions" against McDonald's, the other for the removal of multinational companies' right to sue for libel.

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