The McLibel case was described by Mike Mansfield QC as "the trial of the
century as it concerns the most important issues that any of us have to face
living our ordinary lives." And according to Channel Four News "It will go
down in history as the most expensive and disasterous public relations
exercise ever mounted by a multinational company." It was a victory for
campaigners as the judge slammed McDonald's core business practices*,
evidence in the trial backed up all the criticisms made of the company, and
the campaign became unstoppable. And it's not over yet. Appeals are in
progress, and we are calling for a Day of Action on the anniversary of the
judge's verdict (see below).
* The Judge found as a fact that McDonald's "exploit children" through
their advertising, that they are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to
animals, and that the company is anti-Union and pays such low wages that it
helps to depress the already low wages in the catering industry even
further. The Judge also found that McDonald's food is not nutritious and
that they are therefore deceiving the public when they promote it as such,
and that they are risking the health of their long-term regular customers.
UK LIBEL LAWS TO BE CHALLENGED IN EUROPE
The McLibel Defendants are
appealing in the British courts against the parts of the Judge's verdict
which went against them and over some of the disturbing legal aspects of the
case - it is scheduled to be heard in December 1998 or later. Helen & Dave
intend to take the British government to the European Court of Human Rights
to overturn the UK's unfair and oppressive libel laws - challenging the
denial of Legal Aid and the right to a jury trial, and laws stacked in
favour of Plaintiffs. They will argue that multinational corporations
should no longer be allowed to sue for libel.
BOOK, McSPOTLIGHT CD ROM, & DOCUMENTARY ON VIDEO
- Updated editions of the book "McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial" written
by John Vidal (with the help of the Defendants) are now available in
paperback in the UK, hardback in the USA, and in some other countries. The
paperback is also available by mail order at the special rate of 4 pounds
plus postage from us (see attached leaflet), or $8.49 from Source
Alternative in the US (see attached leaflet).
- A CD-ROM of the McSpotlight Internet site is now available (see attached
- The hour-long documentary "McLibel: Two Worlds Collide" is also now
available on video. Filmed over three years, with courtroom reconstructions
directed by Ken Loach, it tells the inside story of Helen and Dave's epic
battle. See attached flyer for ordering details, or watch it on the
internet at: .
McLIBEL ANNIVERSARY DAY OF ACTION - 19th JUNE 1998
McDonald's continue to expand. The campaign against them continues to grow.
And the 'McLibel' Trial, the longest and one of the most controversial in
English history, still shines as an example of how the business practices of
a huge multinational can be exposed to public view, despite oppressive and
unfair censorship laws. The hour-long documentary "McLibel: Two Worlds
Collide" tells the inside story of the case. Filmed over three years, with
courtroom reconstructions directed by Ken Loach and exclusive access to the
defendants' lives, it would clearly make a very popular peak-time
documentary. But two proposed UK transmissions were blocked by lawyers at
the BBC and Channel 4 and the film is currently available only on video and
on the internet (www.spanner.org/mclibel). Broadcasts in other countries
are currently being negotiated.
One Year After The Verdict, and the Two Worlds Continue To Collide...
A day for local leafletting and protests, and showings (and burials!) of
the 'McLibel' documentary
As Appeals to the UK courts and the European Court are being prepared, the
McLibel Support Campaign calls for international leafletting protests, and
local showings of the documentary around Friday June 19th 1998 (one year
since the trial verdict was delivered and our Victory Day of Action was
celebrated by the distribution of half a million leaflets in about 20
countries). To protest at UK media censorship and burial of the
documentary, we call on activists to organise local burials (at appropriate
key sites) of the tape as a time capsule to ensure that generations to come
will have a chance to know some of what happened during this historic battle.
We encourage those organising local showings of the documentary to order 5
to 10 copies of the video to sell or pass on to people attending.
The 'Adopt-a-Store' network in the UK is continuing - you
can adopt your local UK McDonald's store(s) pledging to leaflet outside on
the McLibel Anniversary Day Of Action (taking place this year) and on 16th
October every year (World Anti-McDonald's Day). In this way, we will ensure
that as many stores are covered as possible. Over 500 of McDonald's 750 UK
stores were leafletted on the 'Victory Day of Action' (21st June 1997).
People can adopt stores or can be put in touch with campaigners in their
area by contacting Veggies in Nottingham (Tel 0115 958 5666) or us.
"What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets, and special
leaflets for children and McDonald's workers, can be ordered from MSC for
those living in Greater London (cheques to 'McLibel Support Campaign'). If
you live outside Greater London, please order leaflets from: Veggies, 180
Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG1 3HW Tel 0115 958 5666 (Cheques to "Veggies
Ltd"). The cost of leaflets is 8 pounds per 600, 12 pounds per 1,000, 16
pounds per 1,500. If you are unable to afford all or some of this amount,
don't worry - the important thing is that leaflets are distributed. If you
have access to printing or copying facilities we encourage you to produce
your own leaflets. Artwork can be obtained from MSC, Veggies, or from the
. Activists in
North America can order leaflets in bulk from the US McLibel Support
Campaign, PO Box 62, Craftsbury VT 05826, USA (Tel 1-802 586 9628, E-mail &
Listserver: email@example.com) at the following rates: $5 for 100, $12.50
for 500, & $23 for 1,000.
Don't forget to leaflet local McDonald's stores also on
October 12th (International Day of Solidarity With McDonald's Workers) and
October 16th (the World Day of Action Against McDonald's).
Note: A fully referenced version of the current "What's Wrong With
McDonald's?" leaflet is also available from MSC. It backs up every sentence
in the leaflet with a reference to authoritative sources or documentary or
oral evidence from the trial. Much of this evidence is in the form of
admissions from McDonald's own witnesses, including top executives, or from
the company's own documents.
We would like to make it clear that the campaign is not at all anti-American.
For those living in or near London, there are open
meetings of London Greenpeace and the McLibel Support Campaign every
Thursday from 7pm. Please come along if you wish to find out more about the
group and/or would like to become involved. Meetings take place at 5
Caledonian Rd, N1.
This is an internet service which distributes the
latest McLibel information to anyone's e-mail address. To subscribe, send
the e-mail message "subscribe mclibel" to .
RESOURCES FOR CAMPAIGNERS
As well as info on the McLibel Trial and general
campaigning materials, we have more specialised information (for example,
resource packs for local residents wishing to oppose a McDonald's planning
application or application to extend an existing store's opening hours).
APPEAL APPEAL APPEAL
We are funded entirely by donations from the public. Even though the
McLibel Trial is now over, Helen & Dave are appealing parts of the verdict,
the issues that were examined in the courtcase are as important as ever and
the campaign against McDonald's and other multinationals continues to grow.
Unfortunately, our funds are now at a low ebb threatening our ability to
continue this work. Please send donations, organise benefit gigs etc.
Please send cheques (payable to "McLibel Support Campaign") to the address
above. We will keep this money separate from general London Greenpeace funds.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH McDONALD'S?
McDonald's spend over $1.8 billion every year worldwide on advertising and
promotions, trying to cultivate an image of being a 'caring' and 'green'
company that is also a fun place to eat. Children are lured in (dragging
their parents behind them) with the promise of toys and other gimmicks. But
behind the smiling face of Ronald McDonald lies the reality - McDonald's
only interest is money, making profits from whoever and whatever they can,
just like all multinational companies. McDonald's Annual Reports talk of
'Global Domination' - they aim to open more and more stores across the globe
- but their continual worldwide expansion means more uniformity, less choice
and the undermining of local communities.
PROMOTING UNHEALTHY FOOD
McDonald's promote their food as 'nutritious', but the reality is that it is
junk food - high in fat, sugar and salt, and low in fibre and vitamins. A
diet of this type is linked with a greater risk of heart disease, cancer,
diabetes and other diseases. Their food also contains many chemical
additives, some of which may cause ill-health, and hyperactivity in
children. Don't forget too that meat is the cause of the majority of food
poisoning incidents. In 1991 McDonald's were responsible for an outbreak of
food poisoning in the UK, in which people suffered serious kidney failure.
With modern intensive farming methods, other diseases - linked to chemical
residues or unnatural practices - have become a danger to people too (such
Workers in the fast food industry are paid low wages. McDonald's do not pay
overtime rates even when employees work very long hours. Pressure to keep
profits high and wage costs low results in understaffing, so staff have to
work harder and faster. As a consequence, accidents (particularly burns)
are common. The majority of employees are people who have few job options
and so are forced to accept this exploitation, and they're compelled to
'smile' too! Not surprisingly staff turnover at McDonald's is high, making
it virtually impossible to unionise and fight for a better deal, which suits
McDonald's who have always been opposed to Unions.
ROBBING THE POOR
Vast areas of land in poor countries are used for cash crops or for cattle
ranching, or to grow grain to feed animals to be eaten in the West. This is
at the expense of local food needs. McDonald's continually promote meat
products, encouraging people to eat meat more often, which wastes more and
more food resources. 7 million tons of grain fed to livestock produces only
1 million tons of meat and by-products. On a plant-based diet and with land
shared fairly, almost every region could be self-sufficient in food.
DAMAGING THE ENVIRONMENT
Forests throughout the world - vital for all life - are being destroyed at
an appalling rate by multinational companies. McDonald's have at last been
forced to admit to using beef reared on ex-rainforest land, preventing its
regeneration. Also, the use of farmland by multinationals and their
suppliers forces local people to move on to other areas and cut down further
McDonald's are the world's largest user of beef. Methane emitted by cattle
reared for the beef industry is a major contributor to the 'global warming'
crisis. Modern intensive agriculture is based on the heavy use of chemicals
which are damaging to the environment.
Every year McDonald's use thousands of tons of unnecessary packaging, most
of which ends up littering our streets or polluting the land buried in
The menus of the burger chains are based on the torture and murder of
millions of animals. Most are intensively farmed, with no access to fresh
air and sunshine, and no freedom of movement. Their deaths are barbaric -
'humane slaughter' is a myth. We have the choice to eat meat or not, but
the billions of animals massacred for food each year have no choice at all.
CENSORSHIP and McLIBEL
Criticism of McDonald's has come from a huge number of people and
organisations over a wide range of issues. In the mid-1980's, London
Greenpeace drew together many of those strands of criticism and called for
an annual World Day of Action against McDonald's. This takes place every
year on 16th October, with pickets and demonstrations all over the world.
McDonald's, who spend a fortune every year on advertising, are trying to
silence world-wide criticism by threatening legal action against those who
speak out. Many have been forced to back down because they lacked the money
to fight a case. But Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two supporters of London
Greenpeace, defended themselves in a major UK High Court libel trial. No
legal aid is available so they represented themselves. McDonald's engaged
in a huge cover up, refusing to disclose masses of relevant documents.
Also, the defendants were denied their right to a jury. Despite all the
cards being stacked against them, Helen and Dave turned the tables and
exposed the truth by putting McDonald's business practices on trial.
Protests against the $30 billion a year fast-food giant continue to grow.
It's vital to stand up to intimidation and to defend free speech.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - Together we can fight back against the institutions and
the people in power who dominate our lives and our planet, and we can create
a better society without exploitation. Workers can and do organise together
to fight for their rights and dignity. People are increasingly aware of the
need to think seriously about the food we and our children eat. People in
poor countries are organising themselves to stand up to multinationals and
banks which dominate the world's economy. Environmental and animal rights
protests and campaigns are growing everywhere. Why not join in the struggle
for a better world. Talk to friends and family, neighbours and workmates
about these issues. Please copy and circulate this leaflet as widely as you
Please send me more information
I enclose _____ pounds donation to the campaign
Greenpeace (London), 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, UK.
Tel 0171 837 7557 or 0171 713 1269.
Independent Internet info at http://www.mcspotlight.org/
- OR -
Please send me more information.
I enclose $______ to the campaign.
US McLibel Support Campaign, PO Box 62, Craftsbury, VT 05826-0062, USA.
Tel 1-802-586-9628 E-mail and listserve: firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent Internet info at: http://www.mcspotlight.org/