McLibel case now a McPaper war

Waikato Times (NZ); 28th July 1998

LONDON - Call it McLibel, part two.

A marathon defamation fight between McDonald's and two vegetarian activists spilled back into court today - and the appeal lodged in the strange case that set an English record for being the longest has posed some unusual logistical questions.

How can the unemployed defendants collect the tens of thousands of pages of documents they need to appeal their loss? And if they do, will the courtroom be big enough?

McDonald's may well have had enough of the so-called "McLibel" battle, but it's clear the case still has a good way to run after duly entering the record books with a 314-day trial that became a hollow victory for the burger giant.

A trial judge ruled in June 1997 that activists Dave Morris and Helen Steel libelled McDonald's by handing out pamphlets that sharply attacked its business practices.

But the judge slammed McDonald's by agreeing three criticisms were true. He found McDonald's:

  • pays low wages in Britain;
  • exploits children through advertising;
  • and is "culpably responsible" for animal cruelty.

Morris and Steel, appealing, now say these points were so damaging to McDonald's that they could not have harmed its reputation with their statements about the perils of a high-fat diet and the alleged destruction of rainforests.

The two sides met again in court today for the first time since the judgment. - Reuter

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