McLibel is a story of two ordinary people who humiliated McDonald’s corporation in one of a biggest corporate public relation disasters in history. McDonald’s loved using United Kingdom libel laws to suppress criticism. Major media organisations like the British Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian crumbled and apologized but then they sued gardener Helen Steel and postman Dave Morris.
In the longest trial in English legal history, the “McLibel Two” represented themselves against McDonald’s ten million pounds legal team. Every aspect of this corporation’s business was cross examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage and advertising to children. Outside a courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar.
McDonald’s corporation tried every trick in a book against them including legal maneuvers. Even a visit from Ronald McDonald. Top executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations and even spies.
Seven years later, in February two thousand five, a marathon legal battle finally concluded at the European Court of Human Rights. A result took everyone by surprise, especially the British Government. McLibel is not just about hamburgers.
It is about an importance of freedom of speech now that multinational corporations are more powerful than countries. Filmed over ten years by a no budget director Franny Armstrong, McLibel is a David and Goliath story of two people who refused to say sorry, and in doing so, changed the world. There are two versions of this documentary, a fifty two minute originally created in nineteen ninety seven.
A second version is eighty five minutes in length released in two thousand five after both defendants took it to a European Court.