Wednesday, February 16, 2005

McLibel two win

Helen Steel and David Morris, whom McDonalds sued for libel in 1990 for distributing leaflets criticising the fast food firm, have finally won their case in the European Court of Human Rights. It's worth remembering what McDonalds won at the original trial - £40,000 damages (uncollected), but they incurred an estimated £10 million in legal costs. The two defendants had no money and no legal aid and so had to defend themselves. Even when McDonalds "won" at the original trial, here is the bitter taste of "victory":
The judge rejected claims that McDonald's was to blame for starvation in the Third World or had used lethal poisons to destroy vast areas of Central American rainforest.

But he also decided, in what was seen as a PR disaster for the corporation, that McDonald's had "pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which their food did not match"; had exploited children in its advertising, and paid low wages, "helping to depress wages in the catering trade".

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