June 19th in History

The trial was the longest in British history

1997: Victory for McDonald's - at a cost

England have

Fast food chain McDonald's has won a partial victory in its epic libel trial against two environmental campaigners.

The pair, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, had published a leaflet accusing the corporation of a series of unethical and environmentally destructive activities.

At the end of the longest trial in English legal history, the judge, Mr Justice Bell, agreed with the fast food giant that some of the claims made in the leaflet were unjustified.

These included allegations that the chain was responsible for destroying rain forests, causing starvation in the developing world, and serving unhealthy food.

But in a serious blow to the company's efforts to present itself as socially responsible, the judge decided it was true that McDonald's targeted its advertising at children, who pestered their parents into visiting company's restaurants.

"We wanted to show these serious allegations to be false."Paul Preston, Chairman of McDonald's UK said.

He also backed claims that the company had treated animals cruelly, and that its workers' low pay had helped to depress wages in the catering trade.

Ms Steel and Mr Morris were ordered to pay McDonald's ?0,000. But Ms Steel said: "McDonald's don't deserve a penny and in any event we haven't got any money."

The activists remained defiant despite their partial defeat and urged people to make up their own minds about the arguments.

The pair, who had represented themselves throughout the 314-day trial, complained it was unfair that legal aid was not available for libel cases.

McDonald's said it had gone to court to protect its reputation.

Chairman of McDonald's UK, Paul Preston, said: "For the sake of our employees and our customers we wanted to show these serious allegations to be false and I'm pleased we've done so."

Throughout his career Edward Heath promoted European Unity

1970: Shock election win for Heath

Artificially 1969:
The Edward Heath has become the new British prime minister after a surprise victory for the Conservatives in the general election.

The result has confounded all opinion polls conducted before yesterday's election which had predicted a comfortable win for Labour.

But with all 630 seats now declared the Conservatives have won 330 seats, giving them a majority of 30. Labour have won 287 seats.

The new prime minister, Edward Richard George Heath, who has led the Conservative party since 1965, has pledged to "restore honesty to government and integrity to politics" and bring to an end what he referred to as "six long years of hard labour".

New style of government

The outgoing prime minister, Harold Wilson, refused to admit defeat until the last minute.

But just after 1400 hrs today, when the Conservatives reached the required majority of 316 seats, he requested an audience with the Queen to tender his resignation.

Shortly afterwards the Queen invited Mr Heath to Buckingham Palace where she asked him to form a new administration.

Edward Heath was born in Broadstairs on 9 July 1916 and was educated at Oxford university, before becoming MP for Bexley in 1950.

A confirmed bachelor, he has a passion for yachting and classical music.

Throughout the past three weeks, during which all the party leaders have toured the length and breadth of Britain on their arduous election campaign trails, Edward Heath, 53, has consistently offered the British people a new style of government.

As well as his commitment to European unity, he has promised to reduce taxes, cut down on wild-cat strikes by updating the law on industrial relations, and give more help to the poor, the old and the sick by concentrating government subsidies on those that need them most.

As he arrived at Downing Street this evening he was given a rapturous welcome. Huge crowds, who had gathered throughout the afternoon, sang "For he's a jolly good fellow" and shouted "Good old Ted."

In an interview with the BBC, the defeated Harold Wilson said he had always admired Edward Heath although he had not agreed with many of his election tactics, including the Conservatives' attempt to "drag sterling into the campaign."

Devaluation of the pound has remained a controversial issue for both the main parties.

But Mr Wilson said Mr Heath would now have the strongest economic position any prime minister had taken over in living memory.

He suggested the low turn-out of voters - just 70% - may have contributed to his defeat: "We were up against something that no-one foresaw. (…) It was a low poll and a low poll is going to count against us. All the signs were of a high poll."

Mr Wilson and his family left Downing Street via a back door this afternoon and went to Chequers, the Prime Minister's country seat, where they will remain until they find alternative accommodation in London.


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