Weekend TV by Desmond Christy

The Guardian Monday May 19th 997

McLibel! (Channel 4). I should say alleged gastric upset. McDonald's (turnover: $24 billion a year) has, as any reader of the Guardian will know, been suing Dave Morris, an unemployed postman? and Helen Steel, who worked as a barmaid during this, the longest libel trial in British legal history.

McLibel's reconstruction of 313 days of evidence in three hours was not gripping television, but it was very educative and seemed a model of fairness (as no doubt it had to be, with all those lawyers watching for bias). Sheena McDonald, who introduced the various stages of the re-enactment, did not betray a flicker of favour to either side. Veggie-burgers are awarded to all concerned. Whatever the outcome of the trial (a judgment is not expected for a month or more), there will be a long-term victory for Dave Morris and Helen Steel. After hearing the arguments, do we really want to carry on, for example, rearing chickens to be slaughtered by the million? McDonalds uses the term "super heavy user" to describe their keenest customers. Who wants to be a super heavy user of the planet?

Congratulations, incidentally, to McDonalds on the corporate stupidity of embarking on this libel trial. What an amazing sell:inflicted wound. They will put this in textbooks of public relations in the chapter entitled How Not To Do It.

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