Mclibel two plan to sue private eyes

Tony Thompson

Time Out (UK); May14-21 1997

The two members of London Greenpeace who are being sued tor libel by McDonald's have announced that if the verdict goes against them they intend to take legal action against the two firms of private detectives hired to monitor their activities.

A judgement in the case, which pitted Helen Steel and Dave Morris against the $20 billion corporation, is expected in the next few weeks. Writ were originaily served because the two were alleged to have distributed a leaflet titled 'What's Wrong With McDonald's', which linked the company to the destruction of the rainforest, animal cruelty and staff exploitation, charges which the company strongly denies.

During the course of the trial, McDonald's admitted that at least seven private investigators were hired to infiltrate London Greenpeace. Spies attended nearly all weekly meetings held at the group between October 1988 and March 1991.

Kings Investigation Bureau Ltd, one of the oldest private detective agencies in London. was hired by McDonald's to infiltrate the group in September 1989. A week later a second company, Robert Bishop Ltd., was hired without the knowledge of the first company. In the event, both sets of agents ended up filing reports on each others operatives. During the course of the investagation letters about McDonald's were 'borrowed' and at one point the London Greenpeace office was broken into.

Five private investigators gave evidence at the trial, one of them as a witness for the defence - and three admitted under oath that they themselves had distributed the 'What's Wrong With McDonald's' lealfet.

In the light of this, Morris and Steel intend to sue both detective agencies for damages, should they lose the trial. Whatever the verdict, campaigners plan a Victory Day of Action during which copies of the disputed leaflet will be distributed outside stores. More than 2 million leaflets have been handed out since the writs were served. :ver£ boI:o:-ed and at one point the London Gretnpeace office ;` as broken into. Fi:-e pri:-ate detecties gave e;dence at the trail.  Jne of them as a witness for the defence -- and three admitted under oath the: hev themsel:-es had distributed the ~hat-  5\rong N`: ith NIcDonald s" leafet. In the light of thi NIorris and Steel intend to sue br'th dtecti'e agencies for damages. should the; lose the trial. N; hate:-er the `.-erdict. c mpaigners plan a Victor: Da:- oi Action during x`-hich copies ot the diputed leaflet `Till be distributed `,utside `tores. NIore than  million leafJets ha;e been handed out since the `rits were served. To'v T1o''zpso'

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