Spring Mailing (1) - Supporter's Letter

Spring 1998

Dear Friends

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.

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.

  • 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 flyer).
  • 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: .

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

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.

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 McSpotlight website . 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: dbriars@sover.net) 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 .

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).


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.


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.


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 as BSE).


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.


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.


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 trees.

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 landfill sites.


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.


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 can.

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: dbriars@sover.net Independent Internet info at: http://www.mcspotlight.org/

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