EUROPE: Court rules McLibel 2 denied fair trial

Issue 

On February 15, the European Court of Human Rights said the lack of legal aid available to Helen Steel and David Morris when they were prosecuted for libel by McDonald's meant that they had been denied a fair trial. They were awarded £24,000 in damages, plus costs. McDonald's launched a prosecution of the pair in 1990, because of leaflets Steel and Morris had been distributing about McDonald's human-rights record. The trial turned into a public relations disaster for the multinational, lasting seven years, with 314 days in court, most hearing expert witnesses on McDonald's health and human rights record. The pair were finally fined £60,000 in damages, but the judge ruled the leaflets were true when they accused McDonald's of paying low wages, being responsible for cruelty to animals and exploiting children in advertising campaigns. McDonald's declined to comment on the EU case.

From Green Left Weekly, February 23, 2005.
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