The European court of human rights has ruled that the "McLibel Two" should have been given legal aid by the British government to defend themselves against a libel action by big bullies McDonalds. They held that they were denied the right to free speech and a fair hearing, breaching the European convention on human rights and breached their right to freedom of expression.
Although they ostensibly lost the libel case against McDonald's in 1997, the court upheld their complaints that McDonalds pay low wages to workers, do not support union membership, and are responsible for cruelty to animals used in its food products and exploit children in their advertising campaigns. The Court of appeal later upheld complaints regarding McDonalds (laughable) statements that their food was healthy.
This decision is important because McDonalds (who earn about $30 billion a year - more than most countries in Africa and in Asia) sued two penniless environmental activists. They clearly expected Mr Morris and Ms Steel to give way in the face of their awesome financial power and expensive army of lawyers - but they did not.
I think we should all be proud of the stance they took in defence of their beliefs, and ashamed of the English Legal system for forcing them to defend themselves (they couldn't afford to pay for legal counsel, but did get help from some law students).
The case is estimated to have cost McDonalds £10m, and has been a PR disaster.
Well done Helen and Dave!!