27 February 1998
Oprah wins "mad cow" case

OPRAH WINFREY was cleared of defaming the US meat industry in the case brought against her by Texan cattle ranchers.

The American chatshow host proclaimed she would not eat another burger on her show in April 1996 after Howard Lyman, a former ranchman-turned-vegetarian activist, made hard-hitting comments on BSE.

The cattlemen claimed prices plunged immediately after the programme costing them millions of dollars on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Jurors took less than a day to find Ms Winfrey not guilty.

The cattlemens case was dealt a blow when the judge ruled the jury could not consider it under Texass new food libel laws. Instead, it became a normal business defamation case, where a higher burden of proof required them to prove Ms Winfrey showed either malicious intent or reckless disregard for the truth.

The trial basically turned into a debate about First Amendment rights and Americas much-loved freedom of speech. An appeal is expected to be launched.

  • Financial Times 27/02/98 page 4
  • The Times 27/02/98 page 15
  • The Scotsman 27/02/98 page 13
  • The Daily Telegraph 27/02/98 page 2
  • The Independent 27/02/98 page 11
  • The Guardian 27/02/98 page 11