McLibel duo emerge triumphant from ECHR case

The pair of environmentalists who took fast food chain McDonald’s to court have sensationally won an appeal in the European Court of Human Rights against the British government.

Helen Steel and David Morris were sued by McDonald’s in 1990 after they produced a leaflet for Greenpeace entitled ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?’

After a lengthy trial and appeal to the Court of Appeal, during which Morris and Steel defended themselves, they were found liable for damages. But they appealed to Europe complaining that the proceedings were unfair because they were denied legal aid, and that the judgment was an interference with their right to freedom of expression.

This morning (15 February), a panel of seven judges including British judge Nicolas Bratza, found for Steel and Morris on both counts, awarding Steel damages of 20,000 euros and Morris 15,000 euros as well as costs of 47,311 euros.

Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent, instructing Keir Starmer QC of Doughty Street Chambers, acted for the appellants in the European court. Philip Sales of 11 King’s Bench Walk acted for the government.