‘McLibel’s’ arch enemy

Docu opens to stir more controversy

Hold the Happy Meals.

After working overtime to counter the claims made by Morgan Spurlock in his hit doc “Super Size Me,” McDonald’s is bracing for a second wave of docu-driven controversy.

The spin battle began anew last week as Cinema Libre Studio bowed “McLibel,” which details the Golden Arches’ libel suit against a pair of U.K. activists — the longest trial in England’s history — just as the chain launched a new promo campaign for its active lifestyle menu to encourage kids to get off the counch.

“McLibel” bowed June 10 in San Francisco; it opens in Minneapolis on June 17 and Seattle and Portland on June 24.

Doc chronicles McDonald’s suit vs. Helen Steel and Dave Morris in 1990 over a pamphlet the pair handed out in 1984. In 1997, an English judge ruled the chain had been libeled by most of the allegations and fined the pair £40,000 ($73,000); but the court did uphold three of the allegations — paying low wages, cruelty in rearing some of its animals and exploiting children in the targeting of its advertising.

Director Fanny Armstrong completed a 57-minute version of the doc in the U.K. in 1998 but has beefed it up to feature length to include a ruling last February by the European Court of Human Rights, which declared the case breached the defendants’ right to a fair trial. The court ordered the U.K. to pay $45,400 in compensation and offer a retrial.

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