By Paul Brown.

The Guardian; 18th Jun 1997

THE result of the McLibel trial is expected tomorrow. This is where McDonald's elected to shoot themselves in the foot, for 313 days in the High Court, by suing two penniless leafleteers for libel.

As well as the longest and probably the most expensive trial in English legal history, it became a celebrated website, a further two million leaflets have been handed out attacking McDonald's, and the event became the subject of a book by Guardian colleague John Vidal. But the misery of almost endless bad publicity won't end for McDonald's.

Whatever the verdict by Mr Justice Bell, who denied defendants David Morris and Helen Steel their right to a jury trial but then gave them unlimited space to make their case, much more is to come. There will be a picket outside the court and a press conference attended by the defendants.

And whatever the result there will be a `Victory Day of Action' on Saturday which will involve leafleting at McDonald's around the world - including more than 500 of the 750 restaurants in the UK. No doubt, like Shell after Brent Spar and Ogoniland, McDonald's will put a brave face on all this and claim they have been exonerated. However, the McDonald's experience will be another object lesson for multinationals in how not to conduct public relations.

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