Talk:McLibel case

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Former good article nominee McLibel case was a Social sciences and society good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
May 27, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
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I came here after reading it was a pyrrhic victory but then I see too many paragraphs of legalities... an overview must be made to order the points between those proven and disproven and then, afterwards, proceed to the details about how is each point proven or not.Herle King 22:11, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

"Their case, Steel and Morris v UK, is due to be heard on 7th September 2004."

That's tomorrow, so we might want to select this as an anniversary... --Joy [shallot]

The vedict of the case is not being appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (as stated in the article) - it can't be, as the House of Lords is the highest authority in the UK. What is being appealed is the defendents' being denied access to legal aid - they argue this is a breach of their human rights. The verdict is not being challenged.

A partisan celebration, not a neutral account[edit]

I discuss the problem with Wikipedia's presentation of the McLibel case on the McDonald's talk page. I dispute that "McDonald's greatest mistake in filing the case was to assert that all of the claims in the pamphlet were false". I can accept that it was a mistake, but that does not mean that it was the greatest mistake. It may be the McDonald's greatest mistake was not to realize that no matter how good its case was in a court of law, Greenpeace and its fellow travellers had more leverage in the court of public opinion. It happens all the time that one side wins before the law and the other wins before the public. Moreover, winning in either venue does not prove you right.

It is also not true that McDonald's "suddenly found itself on trial before the British people and the world". McDonald's has long faced withering, politicized accusations in the court of public opinion. Some of these accusations are fair enough, but there is certainly nothing "sudden" about it. Steel and Morris cannot claim credit for this. Moreover, even if the trial was a Pyrrhic victory, many Britons (like Americans and people everywhere else) still like McDonald's. No family is ever dragged to McDonald's involuntarily; there is always at least one member who wants to go.

Similar to what I said on the other page, I read Bell's decision and I do not see where he found that the defendants had "proven many of their points". He found that a few points were true in a grab bag of mendacious claims. The claims were not only "false" and "shaky", because mere falsehood or shakiness do not constitute libel. They were mendacious.

Finally I note the passage about McDonald's "intimidating critics". This is also a loaded phrase, of course, but it also speaks against the "Pyrrhic victory" thesis. The fact is that many libel cases are intended more to intimidate other potential libelers than to collect damages. Intimidation is what libelers deserve, whether the plaintiff is as villainous as McDonald's or as virtuous as Greenpeace.

--Greg Kuperberg 03:13, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I disagree Greg. What you have to bear in mind with the McLibel case, and any other UK libel case, is that the defence must present primary evidence to support their case. This is by any reasonable means an almost impossible task. More so when you consider the balance of resources between the defence and prosecution. How can two low wage Londoners present primary evidence that McDonalds destroys rainforest to make way for cattle rearing? Any NPOV article on McLibel has to include information on how UK libel works. It's worth noting here too that many large corporations take out libel cases in the UK, precisely because the way the law works means the odds are in their favour start to finish. If this article shows McDonalds in a poor light then you have to ask why? It's not because of bias or a lack of NPOV. McDonalds won a technical victory in the eyes of the law, but not in the eyes of the press (whose reports are valid inclusions if cited clearly), and not in the eyes of the most of the public (although that one is obviously impossible to substantiate!).

NickW 09:27, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I will grant you that Morris and Steel lost in the court of law and won in the court of public opinion. But that's doesn't prove them right, as this article unmistakeably implies. Wikipedia can do better than the court of public opinion. It can even sometimes do better than the BBC. I understand that the United Kingdom has strict libel laws. Most of its citizens must reconcile themselves to it; I cannot believe that they are sheer victims of their own laws. And I suspect that most judges also apply the law with common wisdom. Surely most of them would not levy 60,000 pounds on virtuous middle-class defendants. Or at the very least they would do it with regret. I didn't see this judge express regret; he seemed to say that the fine was fair.

One the that the article rather papers over is the difference between the claims that the judge found libelous and the claims that he accepted. He didn't like the first pamphlet subtitle, "What's the connection between McDonald's and starvation in the 'Third World'?" I can see how Morris and Steel had trouble proving that McDonald's causes famine. On the other hand, he didn't mind the claim that McDonald's "exploits children" -- by enticing them to pester their parents to take them to McDonald's. Were there any parents in the free world who didn't already know? The article says that Morris and Steel did "enormous amounts of research in their spare time". I'm sure they did, but how much research did it take for the claims that the judge accepted? --Greg Kuperberg 15:09, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

As a long-time supporter (right back from the days when the case was the McLibel 5!) I'm overjoyed that Dave and Helen have at last won their case, but nonetheless agree that this page could do with some NPOV attention. An unbiased encyclopedic account would be an even more valuable campaigning resource against the Big mac corp! quercus robur 18:51, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I declare an interest in that I have contributed to 2 major UK newspaper articles on Venture capitalism, aware that much of the content might be deemed defamatory and we would have to prove each line. McLibel is hugely significant, not because of the product but because English Law places a higher value on reputation than on freedom of speech and from my own significant experience it is used as a method of intimidation of the press. The McLibel 2 gave up part of their lives, were immensely courageous and I'm grateful to them. If HMG have to foot the bill for the defence, we will hopefully get a situation where major organisations have a right of reply but cannot use the courts, -just as happens with Government departments. For the record I have never knowingly eaten a McBurger but believe a NPOV can be maintained, not least by the general prionciple of ensuring hostile press references are removed from articles if they are overtaken by events. JRPG 21:13, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

Maybe this should be modified to "places a higher value on the protection against being exposed to public falsehoods than on the protection of making them". I cannot see how being exposed to outright lies (which in this case they are) should be acceptable for corporations any more than for individuals. To make your view consistent you must either declare that individuals should have no protection against fabricated lies intent to damage their reputation either, or, that individuals should have this protection but companies not. (talk) 08:12, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Allow me to quote a passage at length and give remarks in supporting the suggestion that this article lacks NPOV:

"McDonald's spent several million pounds,[citation needed] while Steel and Morris spent £30,000. This disparity in funds meant Steel and Morris were not able to call all the witnesses they wanted, especially witnesses from South America, who were intended to support their rain forest claims.[13]"

My objection deals with the word "disparity." It was not the disparity that prevented them from calling their witnesses, because if McD's has spent less, they would have still been unable to call their witnesses, even though the disparity would be smaller. Instead, it was their lack of funds, or, more specifically, their lack of ability or willingness to spend the funds needed to call their witnesses. -- (talk) 04:56, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I've been using Wikipedia for a couple of years, and continue to be surprised by the generally quality of its articles. But this article is of a very low quality (the writers might say Mc/Muck Quality?), partisan in favour of the individuals, and lacking in reliable factual statements.

Needs NPOV[edit]

This paragraph still needs NPOV attention, anyone else fancy giving it a crack? quercus robur 13:41, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps McDonalds' greatest mistake in filing the case was to assert that all of the claims in the pamphlet were false. Although this was a safe accusation with respect to a number of the shakier claims — those involving the rain forests, for instance — some of the claims were much less controversial. The corporation suddenly found itself on trial before the British people and the world, particularly with regard to those claims involving the health of McDonald's food and labour practices. The case became a media circus, especially when top McDonald's executives were forced to take the stand and be questioned by the two self-taught lawyers.

I've added the NPOV Template to the top of this page. At least some of the following points need addressing:

  1. here is not the place for current opinion on fast-food diets
  2. "However, it is an outrage..." is clearly not neutral!
  3. "Despite strong arguments by the Defendants..." likewise
  4. "pitted a poor, powerless pair of individuals"
  5. "oppressive nature of UK libel law"
  6. the article should not include PR from Steel and Morris but not from McDonalds
  7. in general the article reads as a lionizing of Steel and Morris - it would be much better to let the facts speak for themselves.

MatthewVernon (talk) 12:49, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

... why don't you spend your time improving the writing of the article instead of listing all of it's flaws here??

I agree that the article was heavily biased in favor of the defendants. I've just made significant rewrites to address this, but further work may be needed. I have also moved the page to McDonald's Restaurants v Morris & Steel, because the McLibel name is POV. Superm401 - Talk 00:08, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Why did you not see fit to discuss the article name before unilaterally declaring it to be "POV"? The previous name is that by which the case is widley known in the UK, as well as being the title of a documentary about the case. It is grossly presumptive of you to have made this move in the way you have. Furthermore, it would seem that most of your edits have been POV in favour of the plaintiffs in this case. Why, for example, would you chose to remove the properly-cited estimate of their £10 million legal costs? Your minimising of it elsewhere to "several" (I would suggest you look up the dictionary definition of that word) reeks of bias.Nick Cooper (talk) 10:57, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

I would suggest the article is now reasonably NPOV and could have the tag taken off, now phrases like "it is an outrage that McDonald's has been awarded any damages at all" have been taken down. However, it is still very reliant on sources such as McLibel and NoLogo. Can any sources be found that called into question London Greenpeace's actions? There are a number of papers in the UK that would not naturally sympathise with an anti-meat, anti-capitalist, anarchist campaign, but on the other hand they may have been more hostile to the libel laws since they can be targeted under them as well.Billwilson5060 (talk) 09:32, 24 August 2008 (UTC)


I am not reconciled to the libel laws, though I, like Steel and Morris, live in the UK. But to get to my point: the McLibel two are anarchists, yet media reportage refers to them as "environmentalists" or "environmental campaigners". Perhaps their political beliefs could be mentioned -- I mean, it was probably a motivation for them. As for NPOV, it's impossible to write an unbiased article because someone will always view it as, in some way or other, partial. Particularly with a case like this one. I think the article stands up well, but then I am biased... -- james

Is their political opinion relevant to the case? I presume they're described as environmentalists because the action for which they're famous (basically, the leaflet) addresses environmental concerns not political ones. They didn't appear in the news for advocating anarchist views (destruction of the government, etc.) but because they were trying to prove that forests were being damaged by the fast food industry, that takeaway restaurants cause litter, etc. Ojw 14:24, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with your conclusion: "As for NPOV, it's impossible to write an unbiased article because someone will always view it as, in some way or other, partial." While someone may object to an article, that does not mean the article is biased. The issue of bias goes into the preparation of the article, not how it is viewed by a particular person. David Hoag 05:14, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
Morris and Steel are "anarchists"??? How so? The two worked within, and claimed victory through the legal systems of the UK and the EU. This signifies that Morris and Steel are not at all radical enough as to be able to be deemed "anarchists", as they have worked within the existing framework of authority. That they opposed McDonalds within the existing hierarchical authorities of the UK and EU Courts would surely show that they condoned, or at least showed respect for the workings of the state. An anarchist would have taken an entirely different course in opposing McDonalds and fast food MNCs generally.
Well they are, I can attest this as I know both of them personally, but as far as the McLibel Trila is concerned, their political beliefs aren't that relevant I don't think. quercus robur 21:21, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Well, maybe they ARE stated anarchists, but their action in the McLibel campaign does not make that at all clear. Indeed, to match their stated political views with the incongruent actions in McLibel would serve only to confuse the issues. In any case, please pass on regards to them and to Charlie.

Possible Unacknowledged Source?[edit]

When I was reading the article, especially under the "History" section, I was struck by several phrases that sounded oddly familiar. I then compared these sentences to ones in a book I had previously read (Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser), which gives an account of the McLibel case. For example, from the article:

For a number of years, McDonald's were thus perceived to have been able to use the English libel laws to prevent public criticism being made against them. During the 1980s, the company threatened to sue more than fifty organizations, including Channel 4 television and several major publications.

And from Fast Food Nation (page 246):

The McDonald's Corporation had for years taken advantage of British libel laws to silence its critics. During the 1980s alone, McDonald's threatened to sue at least fifty British publications and organizations, including Channel 4, the Sunday Times, the Guardian,....

Another exerpt from the article:

A major mistake by McDonalds' lawyers when filing the case was asserting that all claims in the pamphlet were false. Although some of the claims were somewhat weak — those involving the rain forests, for instance — other claims were less controversial. The corporation found itself on trial before the British people and the world, particularly with regard to those claims involving the health of McDonald's food and labour practices. The case became a media circus, especially when top McDonald's executives were forced to take the stand and be questioned by the two self-taught lawyers.

From the book (pages 246-47):

McDonald's had made a huge tactical error by asserting that everything in the leaflet was libelous -- not only the more extreme claims ("McDonald's and Burger King are...using lethal poisons to destroy vast areas of Central American rainforest"), but also the more innocuous ones.... The blunder allowed Steel and Morris to turn the tables, putting McDonald's on trial and forcing a public examination of the chain's labor, marketing, environmental, nutrition, food safety, and animal welfare policies. Some of the chain's top executives were forced to appear on the stand and endure days of cross-examination by the pair of self-taught attorneys.

Now, I will concede that the other references may use the book as a reference, but the similarities stuck out to me.

--Golladayp 01:36, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Still one-sided and half true[edit]

It is now a year or so after I previously looked at this article. It is a bit better than it was before, but it is still biased. The article embraces Morris and Steel as serious critics of McDonald's, and only goes so far as to acknowledge that maybe not everything that they say is true. But this is just not the whole truth. When I read the text of the pamphlet, I quickly decided that and its authors are fundamentally unaccountable. It isn't just that this or that claim is shaky. It's that the whole thing is unserious heckling by unserious people with little to lose. The judge's original opinion only confirmed my impression. Morris and Steel themselves almost admit to it too. They say that they have been enjoying the publicity. The tone of it is that they enjoy publicity because they know that they don't deserve it. They aren't even capable progressive activists; they aren't using their publicity to say anything new.

In particular, when Morris and Steel say that they "largely beat" McDonald's, publicity is really all that they won. McDonald's eventually realized that their fight against these people was shadow boxing. So they just quit and went back to their business. As embarrassing as the case was, it barely affected McDonald's sales in Britain or anywhere else.

Greg Kuperberg 18:22, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Quoting from the article:

Later, the defendants learned McDonald's had not only hired spies to infiltrate London Greenpeace, but that the company had hired agents to sleep with members and break into their offices. In addition, it was learned the company abused its connections with law enforcement to obtain information on the defendants. The pair later sued Scotland Yard, and received £10,000 and an apology.

What?! Where did this come from? Cgkm 20:21, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

here is a reference for the UK police leaking confidential information, in case we don't already have it.
Still looking for a source for the "hired agents to sleep with members", but it was definitely mentioned on the documentary which has aired on UK television. Ojw 21:07, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I am not sure I agree that it is still too one sided. Apart from the unsubstantiated comments about abusing connections with law enforcement and sleeping with agents (where can I sign up for that role as an investigator?) the critical approach to McDonald's conduct is fairly consistent with the generally held views of the media commentary, and the findings made by the various courts, viz., that McDonalds pretty effectively shot themselves in the foot. If you strip out the unsubstantiated stuff, or perhaps flag it as unsubstantiated reports made on television (was that the C4 "McLibel" documentary?) I'd support the nomination of the article under "Good Articles", as it seems to me to be well researched, well written, etc. Legis 18:09, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
I can't say for sure which documentary it was - any volunteers to phone Channel 4's enquiry line [1] and ask about their sources? (The C4 film would have been made by Dennis Woolf [2]) Ojw 18:52, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
An ex-policewoman named Shelley did infiltrate the group and have a relationship with a member. This is documented in Guardian journalist John Vidal's "McLibel" book. However it's impossible to prove that she would have been specifically asked to do that when hired. One Night In Hackney 04:25, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Reasons for not promoting[edit]

I believe this article does not conform to Wikipedia's policy of presenting a neutral point of view. This complaint has been made above, so I will not rehash it in great detail. But I will point out that in the conclusions of the final judgement Justice Bell stated "I do not doubt that both Plaintiffs brought the proceedings in good faith to defend their trading reputations and goodwill from defamatory statements which they, through their officers, genuinely believed to be untrue, and not to stifle criticisms which they knew to be well-founded." And, "the Defendants criticised the Plaintiffs for bringing proceedings at all...but I am not persuaded that the bringing of these proceedings should be regarded as disreputable." [3] Without coverage of the point-of-view from McDonald's side of the case this article cannot become a good article. Cedars 00:38, 27 May 2006 (UTC)


I have three things to say. About NPOV, I think the trial was a big disaster for McDonald on all accounts and should be presented as such. Second, I would like to have a reference to the documentary McLibel – two people who wouldn't say sorry in the article, possibly in the introduction. Third, I didn't understand the out-of-context statements about seven years of legal battle and twenty years of battle against McDonald (I thought the longest trial in British history, two and a half years in court?). --Ben T/C 09:34, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

P.S.: Somebody was asking the name of the documentary here on the talk page. I have given the name above, the imdb page is this. --Ben T/C 09:40, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Biased information[edit]


Later, the defendants learned McDonald's had not only hired spies to infiltrate London Greenpeace, but that the company had hired agents to sleep with members and break into their offices.

I think the way this information is given is biased. I traduced this article to french, and after a few conflicts with some people, I realised there wasn't a citation to prove the information. It's true that an agent slept with a member but nobody said that the agent has been hired to sleep with the member, there are even few comments in the media which say that the agent felt in love with the member. Unless I missed something, we should change the way we present that section. Bye, Ajor 18:17, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

What about the "and break into their offices"? --Bensin 03:22, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The only biased information is the company had hired agents to sleep with members, the rest is important and has to be described. I deleted the whole sentence to make people come and discuss a new sentence, my english writing is too bad to make good sentence... Ajor 03:59, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

In the french wikipedia, we finally agreed on this formulation (more or less):

Mcdonald's engaged privates agents to infiltrate the London Greenpeace organisation. Those agents broke into their offices, stole douments, and one of them slept with a member of the organisation.

On second thoughts, I don't think we should mention that sex story since there is no abuse, it's human to have sex relations... Ajor 04:07, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

I propose this: Later, the defendants learned McDonald's had not only hired spies to infiltrate London Greenpeace, but that the company had hired agents tto break into their offices and steal documents.
Is that correct? Ajor 04:09, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I disagree that the sex isn't important. Yes, it's human to have sex, but to have sex with someone under false pretences, whilst pretending to be someone you're not... that's low. The police guidelines on undercover ops specifically prohibit this (though whether they keep to them or not is another matter.) So I suggest the earlier sentence, i.e.
McDonald's engaged private agents to infiltrate the London Greenpeace organisation. Those agents broke into their offices, stole documents, and one of them slept with a member of the organisation.
And I'll put that in.Steve3742 (talk) 19:00, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Shouldn't this article be moved to the case name?[edit]

ie. the name of the article should be McDonald's Restaurants v Morris & Steel. This is much more accurate, and a Redirect will be created from the move. I would quote WP:Naming, but there doesn't seem to be a policy.--Macca7174 14:18, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Naming conventions suggest using the most popular or well known name for an article. For example, we use AIDS rather than Acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Court cases may be a bit different, where perhaps using the actual court case would be more proper. I m neutral as to whether it is moved or not. ~ UBeR (talk) 02:28, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

Somebody needs to review this page as there are far too many weasel words - (in)famous being an example that sticks in my mind. Shinigami27 (talk) 00:53, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Changed weasel summary of the pamphlet[edit]

This article is significantly improved since I visited it some time ago. But it still bends the truth to the conclusion that McDonald's lashed out at reasonable people with reasonable accusations. For instance, the article had the pamphlet say that McDonalds "is cruel to animals" and "is at least partly responsible for destroying the South American rain forests". What the pamphlet actually says is that McDonald's tortures and murders animals, and destroys rain forests. Obviously toning down the pamphlet is not neutral in context. I changed the summary to something much closer to the section headings in the original pamphlet.

The article also says that Bell ruled that "Morris had proven the truth of three fifths of the claims". But the judge did not take ratios and he did not explicitly credit Morris with proof. Libel defendants may hold the burden of proof in this situation, but burden of proof is not the same as credit of proof. The judge maintained respect for objective truth: he discussed what was shown true and not who proved it. Greg Kuperberg (talk) 21:53, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Point taken about the headings. But you're being picky about the "Morris had proven" bit. Apart from needing to be "The defendants had proven..", I don't see what's wrong. Yes, the judge is supposed to rule on objective truth, but he can only do so given the information that has been presented to him and for him to rule in favour of the defendants it would be because they had shown evidence to prove what they had said. And this is how the phrase "The defendants had proven.." would normally be used.
As for the fractions, it was standard practice during the case to divide it up into sections - Advertising, Nutrition, Health, etc. - and it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that "The defendants had proven three fifths of the claims" if that's what actually happened. The judge does continue to separate the case into sections in his judgement.
I do not think that the article needs to follow what the judge says verbatim, either. Granted he's a source, but not the only one. In particular, the fact that the appeal court ruled against him on some areas needs more emphasis.Steve3742 (talk) 19:21, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

I think that credit of proof is a judgment call. I would argue against saying that the defendants had proven the claims, because that would imply to some people that they had battled for the truth themselves, as if they were scientists. The judge's ruling is not phrased that way and I think that that's deliberate. My impression is that the intent of British libel law is to determine the truth, even if the defendants do have the burden of proof, rather than to credit successful litigants with moral victory.

As for the three-fifths claim, I think that it's generally inappropriate to take ratios in libel cases. Suppose that I said that you eat too much, that you're divorced, that you strangled a dog out of malice, that you had a car accident, and that you robbed a bank with a sawed-off shotgun. Suppose that three of these five claims are true and the other two are libelous. Is it then fair to call my description of you three-fifths true? Greg Kuperberg (talk) 04:18, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

SLAPP views[edit]

I struggle to find the "many scholars" that describes this as a SLAPP case. The first link contains the statement "McDonald's case was not meritless, but otherwise would meet the standard definition of a SLAPP". I cannot see this as supporting the assertion, because whether a case has merit or not is clearly a highly material element of whether it should be considered SLAPP or not. It's similar to an individual suing for harassment, where the simple issue of merit places the full guilt on either party. If the formally recognised definition of SLAPP does not include merit as an issue, then please correct me. The second link costs money to access, but it appears it does not deal with McDonalds specifically and is simply the poster's interpretation that the case fits into a formal framework, which it may or may not do. As a result I have changed it to "some scholars", and unless a few examples could be found of noteworthy academics (rather than editorials, who are not scholars) stating that it was clearly a SLAPP case, it should be removed. (talk) 08:06, 21 October 2008 (UTC)


Hi everyone

I'm new to this so bear with me if I get the protocol wrong. I have added the McLibel application to the ECHR as a ref document, preceded by a phrase more accurately explaining the scope of the euro case. This doc is probably the most extensive single doc analysing the McLibel legal case, strength of the evidence relied on, verdicts on the various issues, UK libel laws as applied in this case, and defendants' general objections to the processes employed in the courts. It should be noted that the ECHR judges found 100% for the applicants, but sidestepped almost all of the key issues outlined in the application, preferring instead to rule over the 'overarching' issue of lack of Legal Aid.

DTottenhamDTottenham (talk) 23:33, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Not sure how to edit the intro of the article, because ECHR is the wrong abbreviation. ECHR refers to the Convention whereas the Court is abbreviated by ECtHR. Can someone change that please? -- (talk) 19:23, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Much better[edit]

I complained about this page some years ago. Revisiting it now (in 2010), it is much improved. It is now an objective summary of the case and its history, and not a smug partisan celebration. Greg Kuperberg (talk) 02:15, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

'The McLibel Case' is a much better name[edit]

for the following reasons:

1. This article is about the high court case to which the title refers, but also about the wider situation, the 3 procedural appeals to the CA, the substantive appeal following the decision and the subsequent ECHR application (which is a completely different case), to refer to the original case alone is inaccurate and fails to correctly label the article's content.

2. The original case isn't legally significant, 1st and 4th appeals and the ECHR direction generally come up in relevant texts but the original decision isnt. The mclibel case is best known for the sheer length of time it took and the whole 'david and goliath' thing, neither of which makes the case legally noteworthy. I'd argue that since it isnt noteworthy as a legal case but it is as a 'phenomenon' of sorts it should be refered to by its non-legal name.

3. The current name is wrong anyway, it should be McDonald's Corporation v Steel & Morris or just McDonald's Corp. v Steel. The corporation was the first plaintiff and Steel was the first defendant. The use of 'v.' basically only happens on court documents (where it is also common practice to refer to parties exclusively in CAPITAL LETTERS) and shouldnt be used in other situations. The main reason being that 'V' doesnt stand for anything, it means 'and' or 'against' and is mainly used to stop case names being a confusing mess (e.g. McDonalds Corporation & McDonalds Restaurant & Steel & Morris) - see OSCOLA Bob House 884 (talk) 19:13, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Agreed, except that it should be "McLibel Case", without the definite article (see WP:DEFINITE). --NSH001 (talk) 20:23, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Could somebody change it or at least tell me how haha? Bob House 884 (talk) 12:43, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
You should, by now, be able to "move" it yourself - see HELP:MOVE and WP:MOVE. However, in cases like this where the article has had its name changed in the past from a name very similar to that proposed, it is best to wait a while to allow other people to comment and consensus to emerge. --NSH001 (talk) 13:48, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
It should be noted that the page was originally at McLibel case until it was unilaterally moved by Superm401 under the claim that it was POV. Nick Cooper (talk) 14:10, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Indeed so, I'm just making the point that it is better for this type of proposal to be fully discussed, as it makes for a better result in the long term. --NSH001 (talk) 19:43, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree that "McLibel case" is a better title. However, since the move is potentially controversial and move wars are quite disruptive, the WP:RM process should be followed. Hans Adler 10:59, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Uncontroversial move listed for 7 days+ with no opposition Bob House 884 (talk) 15:26, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

McDonald's Restaurants v. Morris & SteelMcLibel case —legal inaccuracies in previous name, revert of unilateral move by User:Superm401, use of best known and only notable name & many other reasons, see above.--Bob House 884 (talk) 13:44, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

  • support move, see above. --NSH001 (talk) 18:53, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, far more recognizable.--Kotniski (talk) 10:58, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Citations are awful[edit]

Many (most?) of the citations in this article are bunk, not linking to what they are actually said to cite, or being so POV as to be useless.

An example, the citation demonstrating that "mcdonalds hired people who broke into offices and stole documents" when sourced, leads to an interview by filmmakers with one of the principals, where the ACTUAL statement is "you heard testimony someone broke in" which was followed by "i knew nothing about that" from one of the principals. This doesn't cite a break in, it cites testimony that a break in occurred, and isn't even clear on that aspect. MANY of the citations for the more egregious allegations fall into this category. (talk) 14:53, 10 April 2012 (UTC) don't care about mcd's, just don't like liars

The citations are still awful, most leading back to either primary sources or sources that are likely directly connected to some of the participants in this case. This whole article could stand a rewrite with an eye to better sourcing and neutrality. Bonewah (talk) 18:33, 14 December 2015 (UTC)
I dont think there is any way in which is a reliable source. I would argue that the book 'No Logo' is also not a reliable source. Bonewah (talk) 18:37, 14 December 2015 (UTC)

POV tag[edit]

I removed Template:POV from the article, as there appears to be no ongoing discussion of the issues on this talk page, as the template's instructions require. Editors still concerned about POV issues should feel free to edit to attempt to resolve them. Cheers, -- Khazar2 (talk) 13:32, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Bob Lambert[edit]

The BBC reports; "A book by two Guardian journalists claims one of the authors of the so-called McLibel leaflet was former police officer Bob Lambert." [4], however the source cited in the article is the Guardian [5] which is where this story came from, as this isn't really a neutral source (the books authors being Guardian hacks) and yet to be proven or admited to etc. I have changed the wording of the guff added to the article to make it clear this is only an "allegation", after all books claim things all the time for all sorts of reasons some of which have the effect of raising the authors and books profiles - intentionally or not. --wintonian talk 22:07, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

    This article and interview from 4 News seems to quote Bob Lambert directly on the subject:  (it's in the text but sadly not the edited video). I've never contributed to Wikipedia before, and am giving this reference in case it's useful...  — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:27, 16 July 2013 (UTC) 

Length of Case 10 years? Timeline needs adjustment[edit]

From the article:

"The original case lasted ten years, making it the longest-running case in English history"

From one of the cited sources: (

"In 1990 McDonald's served libel writs on five volunteers in the group, beginning a battle often compared to that of David - and Helen - against Goliath. "

"And it wasn't until 19 June 1997 that the judge, Mr Justice Bell, delivered his 762 page judgment."

So the original case (i.e. excluding appeals) lasted about 7 years, not 10. Even including the appeal, it was only 9 years.

Further on in the article: "In June 1995, McDonald's offered to settle the case (which "was coming up to its [tenth] anniversary in court"[15])"

Tenth anniversary" How? I can't access the source, but McDonalds did not sue until 1990, and indeed the leaflets were handed out in 1986, so even the action that McDonalds complained of only happened 9 years before.

Marchino61 (talk) 09:38, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Moreover, it is far from being the longest court case in English legal history. The case of William Jennens' estate seems to hold that crown at 117 years. But that case ended when it became moot. Perhaps McLibel is the longest that actually reached a conclusion. Hairy Dude (talk) 13:17, 12 May 2016 (UTC)
@Marchino61 and Hairy Dude: I've modified the sentence to weaken the longest case claim: The original case lasted nearly ten years which, according to the BBC, made it the longest-running case in English history.
Perhaps it is the longest libel case? or the trial was long lasting 313 days? Jonpatterns (talk) 14:32, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Leaflet summary[edit]

Leaflet summary may not accurately reflect contents of leaflet, see factsheet.Jonpatterns (talk) 14:32, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

Improvement suggestion: add court conclusions about distinct factsheep points to the Introduction or a following section[edit]

The article could be enhanced by adding the official opinions of the UK courts on the correctness and libelousness of the specific points of the fact-sheet; backed by official court opinion documents (the existing links are rotten). (talk) 01:54, 26 September 2016 (UTC)