McDonald's frequently used the UK libel laws to silence it's critics. Major media organisations such as the BBC, Channel 4 and The Guardian quickly apologised when faced with Big Mac's legal team.
But when they sued gardener Helen Steel and postman Dave Morris for handing out leaflets outside their restaurants, McDonald's found themselves desperately trying to control one of the biggest corporate PR disasters in history.
For three long years, the "McLibel Two" defended themselves in court against McDonald's £10 million legal team - and the UK's notoriously oppressive libel laws. Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage and advertising to children. Outside the courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them: flying in top executives for secret settlement negotiations and even sending in spies.
Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded at the European Court of Human Rights. The result took everyone by surprise - including the British Government.
McLibel is not just about hamburgers. It is about the importance of freedom of speech now multinational corporations are more powerful than countries.
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