THE MCLIBEL Two were back in court again yesterday. It was phase four of their 10-year battle with the fast-food giant McDonald's, which they see as the apotheosis of the evils of global capitalism.
Phase one involved the longest trial in English legal history when two "unwaged" anarchists, Dave Morris and Helen Steel, unaided by lawyers, spent three years from 1994 to 1997 in court fighting libel writs which the McDonald's Corporation served on them to stop them distributing leaflets criticising the company.
McDonald's won a hollow victory. The corporation mounted a legal defence, estimated to have cost $10m. But the McLibel Two, representing themselves without legal aid, called more than 70 scientists, researchers and former McDonald's employees to back their claim that the burger chain was to blame for everything from epidemics of heart disease and strokes to the destruction of the rainforest.
The judge ruled that McDonald's "pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which their food did not match"; "exploit children" with their advertising; are "culpably responsible for animal cruelty"; and "pay low wages, helping to depress …