A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) [from Anarchy Africa] McLibel shows global alternative to the

From "Griffin" <zabalaza@union.org.za>
Date Sat, 19 Apr 2003 07:37:40 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

> What happened next?
Names: Helen Steel and Dave Morris Date: September 1990
Place: London Facts: Helen Steel, 37, and Dave Morris, 49, became
known as the 'McLibel Two' when they were accused by McDonald's
of libelling the company in a campaigning leaflet they had
distributed. Despite having no legal background, they chose to
defend themselves in what became the longest civil trial in
British history. The judge ruled the leaflet libellous, but
upheld some of their claims, in a move seen as a major blow to
McDonald's. Both have returned to community activism. For more
information, go to www.mcspotlight.org
> > >
Helen Steel: I'd just arrived outside a friend's house when a
man stepped in front of me, said 'Helen', and then dropped an
envelope at my feet. It was a writ from McDonald's claiming
damages for alleged libel. The letter said if we didn't apologise
and pay their costs they would proceed with a court case. I felt
really angry, both that they had followed me around and that they
could attempt to intimidate people in this way. I felt we had no
option but to fight the case ourselves.
> > >
McDonald's predicted the trial would last three to four
weeks; they must have expected to be able to walk all over us,
knowing that we were unrepresented and had no experience of the
libel courts. In fact, it lasted 313 days, becoming the longest
trial in English legal history. Representing ourselves was
exhausting and stressful, but support from people writing in kept
our spirits up, as did news of protests around the world.
> > >
The verdict was devastating for McDonald's. The judge ruled
that they exploit children with their advertising strategy;
deceptively promote their food as nutritious; pay low wages and
are responsible for cruelty to animals. I think McDonald's
bitterly regret taking us on. They spent an estimated £10m on the
case only for all their dirty linen to be aired in public.
Because the judge ruled against us on some points, however, we
were ordered to pay damages to McDonald's. We appealed and the
damages were reduced from £60,000 to £40,000. We've never paid
them a penny though!
> > >
It felt great when the case ended. At last I had the time to
do things I enjoy, going for long walks in the countryside,
growing food on my allotment, meeting up with friends. I've also
helped to set up a housing co-op and trained to become an
> > >
Although it's over 12 years since the writs were served on
us, Dave and I are still working on McLibel. We've lodged a case
with the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the UK libel
system breaches the right to freedom of speech and the right to a
fair trial. We're also both involved with a local group -
Haringey Solidarity Group, working on a variety of local issues
and campaigns.
> > >
Recently we've been down to support the firefighters in
Tottenham. I can still feel overwhelmed by the huge power that
corporations hold, but the recent growth of opposition to
capitalism and war is very inspiring. All over the world people
are recognising that if we want to protect our communities from
profiteering and destruction, then it's up to ordinary people to
get together. It's important to look for the positives in life.
> > >
Dave Morris: In the 70s, as a postal worker and union
activist, I had a foretaste of battles to come when I first
delivered mail to a local McDonald's and was told by staff about
their poor working conditions. In 1990, faced with their attempt
to silence public criticism, Helen and I knew we had to fight
back, come what may. We got two hours of free advice, but no
further Legal Aid was available. An active support campaign
ensured protests surrounding the case grew; thousands of
activists signed a 'pledge of defiance' to continue to leaflet
and the new Mcspotlight website got a million hits in its first
month. As a lone parent with a young boy, Charlie, I wouldn't
even have been able to fight the case without the continuous help
of friends and neighbours.
> > >
I was outraged when we were denied a jury trial, but knew
what really counted was the court of public opinion. It was hard
and relentless work, but a real buzz. As we emerged into the
sunshine after the verdict, I was really chuffed that there were
crowds of cheering people.
> > >
I believe the campaign contributed to the rise of the modern
anti-capitalist and anarchist movements which show there's a
global alternative to the current system. My only regret is that
the case distracted me for nearly 10 years from the activities I
value most in my local area. I was really glad to get back on to
my old stomping ground.
> > >
I helped start a parents' group at Charlie's school, then put
most of my efforts into a local residents' association, working
to build up community spirit, improve the local environment and
local facilities, and generally empower people to feel that they
are the ones that count, that they should have control over their
lives. Every person and community in the world deserves nothing
> > >
As two ordinary people who made the most of an extraordinary
situation, we wanted to show that everyone can speak out and
stand up for what's right, whatever the odds, especially if
they're organised and determined. If the campaign's efforts have
inspired anyone to challenge the powers-that-be, then it will
have been worth it all. Together people can create a world based
not on money or power, but on sharing and co-operation; where
communities control all the decision-making and resources; and
workers control their workplaces and smile only when they feel
like it.
> >
[Ed. just for the record... not only London Greenpeace
is anarchist and both of them declare themselves as anarchists,
but Dave Morris has also been more than 15 years
activist in Haringey Solidarity group, anarchist group in
this area of London which is member of Solidarity Federation...]

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
COMMANDS: lists@ainfos.ca
REPLIES: a-infos-d@ainfos.ca
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
WWW: http://www.ainfos.ca/
INFO: http://www.ainfos.ca/org

-To receive a-infos in one language only mail lists@ainfos.ca the message:
unsubscribe a-infos
subscribe a-infos-X
where X = en, ca, de, fr, etc. (i.e. the language code)

A-Infos Information Center