McDonald's sues activists

Issue 

McDonald's sues activists

Worldwide hamburger giant, McDonald's is suing for alleged libel two London Greenpeace activists who distributed leaflets criticising the corporation's practices.

In 1985 London Greenpeace (a small, independent collective) launched an anti-McDonald's campaign, initiating an annual day of opposition on October 16 (UN World Food Day).

The group claims that McDonald's, the world's largest property and food service organisation, with annual sales approaching Lstg20 billion, is guilty of:

  • exploiting workers through low pay and military-style work and no union coverage;

  • indoctrinating children with Lstg100 million spent annually on ads;

  • destroying the environment with packaging, waste and the effects of beef ranching.

McDonald's initially attempted to ignore such opposition, but later to counter it, and began to use the legal system to prevent unwelcome criticism. The Scottish Trade Union Congress, the Guardian newspaper, Channel 4 and activist groups were forced to apologise to McDonald's or face expensive court actions.

The two activists, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, have refused to give in. Although denied legal aid and faced with enormous costs to defend themselves against the transnational corporation, they are fighting on. They stand accused of distributing, not even writing or publishing, a leaflet entitled "What's wrong with McDonald's — everything they don't want you to know".

A support group has been formed to do research for, and help finance, the case, which is due to go to before the British courts in early 1994. McLibel Support Campaign can be contacted: c/o London Greenpeace, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1.