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111, Mc Shit

111, Mc Shit

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The McLibel Trial is the infamous British court case between McDonald's and a former postman & a gardener from London (Helen Steel and Dave Morris). It ran for two and a half years and became the longest ever English trial. The defendants were denied legal aid and their right to a jury, so the whole trial was heard by a single Judge, Mr Justice Bell. He delivered his verdictin June 1997.

 

The verdict was devastating for McDonald's. The judge ruled that they 'exploit children' with their advertising, produce 'misleading' advertising, are 'culpably responsible' for cruelty to animals, are 'antipathetic' to unionisation and pay their workers low wages. But Helen and Dave failed to prove all the points and so the Judge ruled that they HAD libelled McDonald's and should pay 60,000 pounds damages. They refused and McDonald's knew better than to pursue it. In March 1999 the Court of Appeal made further rulings that it was fair comment to say that McDonald's employees worldwide "do badly in terms of pay and conditions", and true that "if one eats enough McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat etc., with the very real risk of heart disease."

As a result of the court case, the Anti-McDonald's campaign mushroomed, the press coverage increased exponentially, this website was born and a feature length documentary was broadcast round the world.

The legal controversy continued. The McLibel 2 took the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights to defend the public's right to criticise multinationals, claiming UK libel laws are oppressive and unfair that they were denied a fair trial. The court ruled in favour of Helen and Dave: the case had breached their their rights to freedom of expression and a fair trial.

Who said ordinary people can't change the world?

Read the whole story here.

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