Late Victory for McLibel Defendants

The British government will review its libel laws after two environmental campaigners who were sued by McDonald's won a legal judgment. The European court of human rights ruled "that their rights to a fair trial and freedom of expression were violated when they were denied legal aid," reports Clare Dyer. "McLibel" defendants Helen Steel and David Morris were sued by the fast-food chain for passing out leaflets that accused McDonalds of selling unhealthy food and damaging the environment. "The world's biggest fast-food chain spent an estimated £10 million on the case, which involved 28 pre-trial applications," Dyer reports. "The pair had to represent themselves with sporadic free help from friendly lawyers and £40,000 raised from supporters to help cover expenses such as transcripts and photocopying. ... The human rights court in Strasbourg ruled that the 'inequality of arms' between the two meant they were denied a fair trial and there was a 'chilling effect' on their freedom of expression."