Some years ago, an independent UK production company made a documentary
about the longest libel case in British legal history.
The so-called "McLibel" case made headlines internationally in the late
1990s after two London Greenpeace activists, very vocal and literate
campaigners against McDonald's, were taken to court by McDonald's for their
part in the publication and distribution of an anti-McDonald's leaflet
titled "What's Wrong With McDonald's". Rather than do what others before
them had done - give into pressure and apologise thus avoiding legal
proceedings - they figured they had nothing to lose and allowed McDonald's
to sue them in the hope that this would provide an unprecedented look into
McDonald's operations, which it most certainly did to a breathtaking extent.
After approximately a year of court proceedings (untold sums being thrown at
the case by McDonald's for the best available legal team and to fly in the
best expert witnesses, compared to the meagre fundraising which the
campaigners had to resort to since it was a libel case and under British law
they were ineligible for legal aid), McDonald's only managed to defend
themselves on four of the seven main complaints. A real David and Goliath
The original documentary told the story up to and slightly beyond the end of
the court case. Tonight, SBS in Australia screens the follow-up
documentary, "McLibel!", which brings us right up to date with the effect of
the case not only for the public but for Helen Steel and Dave Morris who
must be heartily sick of the whole McLibel thing by now.
Not to be missed television - "McLibel" (listed as "Cutting Edge"), SBS at
8.30pm tonight 21/6/05.
Apparently there is also now a double DVD containing both documentaries and
about 4 hours of extras. Details at http://www.spannerfilms.net/?lid=1316