London Greenpeace
London Greenpeace was an Anarchist environmentalist activist collective that existed between 1972 and 2001. They were based in London, and came to international prominence when two of their activists refused to capitulate to McDonald's
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 64 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by the eponymous Richard and Maurice McDonald; in 1948...

 in the landmark libel case known as "McLibel".


In 1972 a group of activists around Peace News
Peace News
Peace News is a pacifist magazine first published on 6 June 1936 to serve the peace movement in the United Kingdom. From later in 1936 to April 1961 it was the official paper of the Peace Pledge Union , and from 1990 to 2004 was co-published with War Resisters' International.-History:Peace News was...

 formed a new group committed to environmentalism and Anarchism. Initially called "Against the French Tests", they changed their name to Greenpeace - Stop the French Tests, campaigning against the testing of French nuclear weapons in the Pacific.

London Greenpeace is not affiliated with Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

. Greenpeace was formed out of a rough coalition of various environmentalist groups in 1971, many of whom were already using the name "Greenpeace". London Greenpeace emphatically wanted to remain independent of this new and larger Greenpeace, which they saw as being too "centralized and mainstream for their tastes".

Political Affiliation

London Greenpeace's politics have primarily been informed by Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

. They have been linked, ideologically and in their activism with radical environmentalism
Radical environmentalism
Radical environmentalism, is a grassroots branch of the larger environmental movement that emerged out of an ecocentrism-based frustration with the co-option of mainstream environmentalism...

, green anarchism
Green anarchism
Green anarchism, or ecoanarchism, is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. An important early influence was the thought of the American anarchist Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden...

 and pacifism
Pacifism is the opposition to war and violence. The term "pacifism" was coined by the French peace campaignerÉmile Arnaud and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress inGlasgow in 1901.- Definition :...

. They have been officially affiliated with War Resisters' International, the National Peace Council
National Peace Council
The National Peace Council, founded in 1908, and disbanded in 2000, acted as the co-ordinating body for almost 200 groups across Britain, with a membership ranging from small village peace groups to national trade unions and local authorities...

, and the Animal Liberation
Animal Liberation
Animal liberation may refer to:*Animal rights, animals being considered as legal persons**Animal-liberation movement**Abolitionism , an abolitionist approach to animal rights**Veganarchism, a combined theory of animal liberation and anarchism...

 movement. In the 1980s they were involved with the Stop the City
Stop the City
The Stop the City demonstrations of 1983 and 1984 were described as a 'Carnival Against War, Oppression and Destruction', in other words protests against the military-financial complex. These demonstrations can be seen as the forerunner of the anti-globalisation protests of the 1990s, especially...

 campaigns, whilst the 1990s saw them helping to initiate the London-wide Reclaim The Streets
Reclaim the Streets
Reclaim The Streets is a collective with a shared ideal of community ownership of public spaces. Participants characterize the collective as a resistance movement opposed to the dominance of corporate forces in globalization, and to the car as the dominant mode of transport.-Protests:Reclaim The...

 Network. They are viewed as one of the first Anarchist groups to promote a specifically environmentalist message.

During the second half of the 1970s the group pioneered the campaign against nuclear power, and worked with a number of anti-nuclear alliances such as Stop Urenco, the Torness Alliance, and the Nuclear Information network. London Greenpeace was also involved in the opposition to the Falkland War, and co-founded the Anti-Falkland War Support network.


In 1990 McDonald's issued proceedings against five London Greenpeace supporters, Paul Gravett, Andrew Clarke and Jonathan O'Farrell, Helen Steel and David Morris
McLibel case
McDonald's Corporation v Steel & Morris [1997] EWHC QB 366, known as "the McLibel case" was an English lawsuit filed by McDonald's Corporation against environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris over a pamphlet critical of the company...

, for libel. The company offered to withdraw actions against each individual in return for an apology and an undertaking not to repeat the claims. The activists had been distributing a pamphlet throughout London containing allegations regarding starvation in the Third World, destruction of rainforest, the use of recycled paper, links between the company's food and heart disease & breast/bowel cancer, false advertising, the rearing and slaughter of animals, food poisoning, and employment practices. Of the five defendants, Gravett, Clarke and O'Farrell apologised to McDonald's, while Steel and Morris (often referred to as "The McLibel Two") refused.

Almost all of London Greenpeace's resources and efforts went to helping the pair over the years the case was heard, but in 1997 both defendants lost and were ordered to pay McDonald's £60,000. However, the extended court battle was a public relations failure for McDonald's; the company decided not to pursue the two defendants for the money.


In 2001 London Greenpeace issued a public statement announcing their dissolution. While the McLibel action brought fresh energy, publicity and urgency to the organisation, this did not last long, and the group felt it best to permanently suspend their efforts.
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