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2dayuk. comOn 15 February, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) handed down its judgment on the appeal by Helen Steel and David Morris against the UK Government. The applicants alleged that defamation proceedings brought against them by McDonald’s had given rise to violations of their rights to a fair trial under Article 6 (1) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and to freedom of expression under Article 10.

At 313 court days, the libel action brought by McDonald’s was the longest trial in English legal history. For the most part, Steel and Morris represented themselves. From the issue of the writ on 20 September, 1990, to the refusal of leave to appeal by the House of Lords on 21 March, 2000, the entire length of the proceedings was nine years and six months. It was a highly complex case, factually and legally. Steel and Morris lost the case and McDonald’s was awarded £40,000 in damages.

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