To remember London Greenpeace
London Greenpeace was the first Greenpeace group in Europe, founded in 1971, and has always been separate from Greenpeace International (founded in 1977). According to one of its members, Dave Morris, it was “an open, anarchist, ecological group which has always supported a wide range of radical, social and environmental issues, networking with other activists and initiatives.” And so, it is not to be confused with the larger Greenpeace International organization, which they declined to join as they saw it being too "centralized and mainstream for their tastes".
When Greenpeace International was established, the biggest of the Greenpeace organisations outside Britain - the Vancouver Greenpeace Foundation in Canada saw itself as the "lead" group. It also wanted the London group to "take its orders from" the Board of Directors in Vancouver, but London Greenpeace refused.
In 1986 "London Greenpeace", as a small campaigning group, started distributing a pamphlet entitled What’s wrong with McDonald’s: Everything they don’t want you to know. The pamphlet led to the famous McLibel case, a long-running English court action.
Dave Morris : “Myself and co-defendant Helen Steel (a 33-yr old barworker) were sued for libel by the $30 billion-a-year Corporation in 1990 for distributing London Greenpeace leaflets criticising McDonald’s, the food industry and multinationals in general for promoting unhealthy food, damaging the environment, monopolising resources, exploiting workers, targeting and exploiting children and causing animal suffering.” Later, the defendants learned McDonald's had not only hired spies to infiltrate London Greenpeace, but that the company had hired agents to break into their offices and steal documents. The case turned into a matter of serious embarrassement for the company.
In 2005, the pair's 20-year battle (and 11-year court battle) with the company concluded when the European Court of Human Rights ordered that the United Kingdom government had to pay the McLibel Two £57,000 in compensation for not supporting the two in their fight against McDonald's.
The European Court declared that the notorious and long running McLibel case was in breach of the right to a fair trial and right to freedom of expression, and ruled that UK laws had failed to protect the public’s right to criticise massive corporations whose business practices can affect people’s lives, health and the environment.
Helen and Dave have recently been active in local community groups and campaigns in North London.
More about the McLibel case...