Defend McLibel Dave/office eviction, Tuesday, London

tony at tony at
Sun May 20 12:04:33 BST 2001

For forward distribution....please circulate......

McLibel Crisis - Protests Mount As Defendant And
Office Fight Eviction
Threat On Tuesday.

*****Please send solidarity/protest emails TODAY to
the leader of 
Council calling on them to suspend the eviction:
george.meehan at   [Please copy to leader
of Housing:
scott.reeve at   
and to mclibel at ]

Friday 18th May Update:

There has been a fantastic response to Dave Morris's
appeals to the 
for support in the fight to prevent the eviction by
Haringey Council of 
and his son, and the McLibel office on Tuesday [Full
details below].

In Haringey, Dave's local residents association have
leafletted all 
homes on the local estate calling for support, and the
local press have
started covering the case. Local people have written
many letters to 
Council and local politicians. 

In response to a statement by the McLibel Support
Campaign emails are
beginning to flood in from all over the world to
Haringey Council 
calling on
them to halt the unnecessary eviction, and to
negotiate an acceptable
solution to the situation. 

We have received copies of scores of these emails,
from London and 
the UK, and from people in many countries including in
S. America, USA,
Australia Europe, and Canada. They include messages
from people shocked 
the threat to the legal work for the European case,
concerned for Dave 
Charlie's welfare, and opposed to the use of expensive
and degrading 
and Breakfast' schemes. Interestingly, these include
emails from a 
Leader of a town near London, and a former Leader of a
Committee of
a Council in West London.

Meanwhile, Council Housing Leader, Councillor Scott
Reeve (who had
previously overseen the negotiations last year) wrote
to Mr Morris this 
saying that he was 'requesting a report on the issues
raised' before
responding further. Your messages to him will help!


AND CHARLIE'S HOME [details at the end, below] TO

Dave is touched and encouraged by the support he has
received, and 
sends his
thanks and best wishes to everyone. 

In solidarity,

McLibel Support Campaign
18th May 2001

McLibel Support Campaign 
c/o London Greenpeace  5 Caledonian Rd, London,  N1 9DX, UK.   
Tel/Fax  +44-(020) 7713 1269    mclibel at

MEDIA RELEASE - 2 pages                   16th May 2001

in the middle of the European case against British government
The long-running McLibel case entered a new phase today. The McLibel legal
office is run from the home in North London of McLibel defendant Dave
Morris. But he is now fighting an imminent threat by Haringey Council to
evict him and his son Charlie along with the McLibel office on Tuesday 22nd
May. The council, who have a statutory duty to house Mr Morris and Charlie,
have said they can only offer ‘Bed and Breakfast’ accommodation and to put
all their belongings into sealed storage. They have lived there since
Charlie was born. They are determined to stay and have mounted a campaign,
backed by their local residents’ association, to get the council to suspend
the eviction.

This crisis comes at a bad time. The McLibel defendants, Helen Steel and
Dave Morris, who without legal aid defended themselves against the $40
billion dollar McDonald’s Corporation in the longest trial in English
history, are currently in the middle of an application against the British
Government at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. They are
arguing that unfair and oppressive English defamation laws contravene the
European Convention on Human Rights.

On May 2nd they served their full submissions and are currently awaiting for
an interim decision from the European Court. If, as expected, it is ruled in
the next few weeks that the applicants’ case is admissable then the British
Government is expected to mount a strong defence of its notoriously
controversial libel laws. There will follow further complex submissions from
both sides.   

*    *    *    *    *

In 1993, after the defendants unsuccessfully applied to the European Court
to overturn the British Government’s denial of legal aid in defamation
cases, the McLibel legal office was set up in a tiny room in Mr Morris’s
home. Inside are 40,000 pages of court documents, 20,000 pages of trial
transcripts, a photocopier, computer and a wide range of research and
administration material to conduct the case. Mr Morris’s co-defendant, Helen
Steel, lives in one room in a shared house nearby. Many of her own files are
in storage and so the McLibel legal office is absolutely essential for the
conduct of their case. Any forced closure of the office would make it
impossible for them to fight the European case adequately.

Mr Morris has lodged an ‘11th hour’ application at Edmonton County Court -
10am on Monday 21st - to suspend the eviction. This will be done if the
council agree to it. He has written to the Leader of the Council, Cllr
George Meehan, explaining the whole situation and demanding that he agree to
the suspension. Protests are planned at Cllr Meehan’s surgery on Saturday,
10.30am. An ‘anti-eviction party’ is planned for Tuesday at 10am when the
bailiffs are due. Mr Morris is calling for international support in his
efforts to protect his family and the McLibel legal office.

Dave Morris issued a statement this week:   ‘ Me and my son Charlie are a
single parent family who have been living in temporary accommodation at 380
Lordship Lane since he was born - along with our cat (Flossy), our piano,
all our belongings and the McLibel legal office.

‘ Last year during negotiations the council said we could have a permanent
tenancy on the Tower Gardens estate, then said they’d probably give us a new
tenancy at 380 instead - but now we’re threatened with being evicted on 22nd
May!  We think its a scandal that the council is prepared to spend a fortune
putting us into Bed and Breakfast, rather than just let us stay in our home
until we can have our permanent tenancy. There are no other plans for our
home - a flat above a carpet shop - which will probably be left empty. We
are demanding that the eviction is postponed to enable negotiations to

‘ We are strongly attached to our local community, the Tower Gardens estate,
and our local residents association. We are determined to stay put.

‘ I had moved in to 380 - designated as ‘Adequate Interim Accomodation’ by
the council - with the agreement of the managers of the property on behalf
of the council at the time, Haringey Short Life Users (HSLU).  A tenancy at
380 was then granted for Charlie and his mum, but when she moved out the
following year into permanent council accommodation the two of us split up
and I stayed here with Charlie - at first sharing responsibilities with his
mum, but soon taking over sole care of Charlie. Unfortunately at some point
in the early 1990s HSLU collapsed and we were left high and dry in a legal
limbo. As a result, there was an 8-year long complex and unusual legal
dispute over whether in the circumstances we had tenancy rights. The council
won the case last December. We expected to be given a new tenancy (as
discussed during negotiations in 2000 with the council’s Housing Leader,
Councillor Scott Reeve, and Steve Turner on behalf of the Borough
Solicitor), but instead were shocked to be threatened with eviction.

‘ We say suspend the eviction - negotiate a sensible agreement: a new
tenancy at 380, or rehousing on the Tower Gardens estate. Also, we must end
the scandal of bed and breakfast accommodation while there are 100,000 homes
in london left empty - decent homes for all!

‘  *  Please write to leader of the Council, Cllr George Meehan at the Civic
Centre, N22 (and send us a copy of your letter). Email:
george.meehan at
*  Protest on Saturday 19th May, 10.15am outside Cllr George Meehan’s
surgery, George Lansbury Hse, Progress Way, N22   Media welcome.
*  Come to an all-day anti-eviction party at 380 Lordship Lane on Tuesday
22nd May (bailiffs due 10am).  Media welcome.  ‘


EUROPEAN CASE   Helen and Dave assert that the McLibel trial breached, in
particular, Article 6 [right to a fair trial] and Article 10 [right to
freedom of expression] of the Human Rights Convention, and that English
libel laws are incompatible with the convention. The McLibel 2 are seeking
to defend the public's right to criticise companies whose business practices
affect people's lives, health and the environment. They also seek an end to
oppressive, unfair and archaic defamation laws and procedures in general,
and in their case in particular.  Under Article 10:  Multinational
corporations, should have no right to sue for libel as it is in the
overriding public interest that they be subjected to unfettered scrutiny and
criticism (as applies to governmental organisations), since they have huge
power and influence.   If there is a right to sue, it should be a defence
for a defendant to show 'reasonable belief' in the words complained of, or
that the issues are of public importance.      Under Article 6:  The McLibel
case was unfair and oppressive due to several factors - for example, the
imbalance of financial and legal resources as between the two sides and the
denial of a jury trial. 

TRIAL BACKGROUND   McDonald's issued writs against the McLibel 2 on 20th
September 1990 alleging they had been libelled in the London Greenpeace
factsheet: "What's Wrong With McDonald's?". The McLibel trial began on 28th
June 1994, and on June 19th 1997, after a trial lasting 314 days, Mr Justice
Bell ruled that: McDonald's marketing has "pretended to a positive
nutritional benefit which their food (high in fat & salt etc) did not
match"; that McDonald's "exploit children" with their advertising strategy;
are "culpably responsible for animal cruelty"; and "pay low wages, helping
to depress wages in the catering trade."  On March 31st 1999 the Court of
Appeal further ruled that it was fair comment to say that McDonald's
employees worldwide "do badly in terms of pay and conditions", and true that
"if one eats enough McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat
etc., with the very real risk of heart disease." However the Courts ruled
that the McLibel 2 had still libelled McDonald's over some points and
outrageously ordered them to pay £40,000 damages to the $40 billion-dollar
company. The McLibel 2 have refused to pay a penny.

17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA
0131 557 6242
tues 12-4pm (claimants advice and solidarity available)
sun 2-6pm

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