June 01, 2018
Stores decorated with fake police tape in protest against undercover officers’ behaviour
Cosmetics retailer Lush criticised by police over spycops ad campaign
The cosmetics retailer Lush has been criticised by leaders of the Police Federation of England and Wales for an advertising campaign that addresses the scandal over undercover police officers forming relationships with the women they were employed to spy on.
As part of the campaign, promoted using the hashtag #spycops, Lush storefronts have been decorated with fake police tape emblazoned with the slogan: “Police have crossed the line.”
Since 1968 several women have had relationships with undercover police officers, not knowing they were using false identities to infiltrate the groups the women belonged to. The Metropolitan police have also been sued by a man who discovered that the father who abandoned him as a child was an undercover officer assigned to spy on his mother. Victims of deception have been critical of the undercover policing inquiry, set up in 2015 and led by Sir John Mitting.
As part of the campaign, Lush’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have featured video clips about the controversy, and have pictured a model whose appearance is split between being a police officer in uniform, and an undercover activist. The image is accompanied with the slogan “Paid to lie”. As yet, none of the material has appeared on the company’s popular Instagram account.
Cosmetics retailer Lush criticised by police over spycops ad campaign
The campaign has faced a fierce backlash online from consumers and from representatives of the police. Ché Donald, the vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: “This is very poorly thought out campaign and damaging to the overwhelmingly large majority of police who have nothing to do with this undercover enquiry.”
Calum Macleod, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he hoped Lush would “have the good sense to realise they made a mistake, and apologise to police officers and their families for the offence this poorly judged PR campaign has caused. No doubt the company will have many employees who have friends and family in the service and I urge them also to act now and hold their bosses and the company to account.”
In a statement, Lush denied that the campaign was “anti-state” or “anti-police”. The company said they “fully support [police] in having proper police numbers, correctly funded to fight crime, violence and to be there to serve the public at our times of need” and that they were only addressing “a controversial branch of political undercover policing that ran for many years before being exposed.”
Lush said its campaign had a specific aim to make changes to the undercover policing inquiry, and is urging customers to send postcards to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, asking him to add a panel of experts to the inquiry to aid the chair. It also wants to extend the scope of the inquiry to cover Scotland, to stop the current practice where the identities of the officers involved and the groups they were conducting surveillance on are not being disclosed to the public.
Rebecca Lush, the charitable giving coordinator at the company, said: “When Theresa May launched this public inquiry we all hoped that the truth about this scandal would finally be exposed and that the disgraceful police tactics would be examined. Instead, the public inquiry chair is making the inquiry more secretive and is granting the police anonymity in secret hearings. It is time the home secretary listened to the victims and appointed a diverse panel to hear the full evidence.”
Lush’s Facebook page has been bombarded with one-star ratings, and users have adopted the hashtag #FlushLush to campaign for a boycott of the company.
Lush has defended the campaign on social media, saying: “This isn’t an anti-police campaign, it’s to highlight the abuse that people face when their lives have been infiltrated by undercover police.”
It has directed social media critics to an essay about the scandal published on its website, and to an anonymous account by one victim, who spent five years in a relationship with a man she knew as Mark Cassidy, who was actually an undercover police officer called Mark Jenner.
Based in Poole in Dorset, Lush has a history of campaigning on political and ethical issues, including same-sex marriage in Australia, and helping to protect hen harriers in the UK. In 2016 US branches raised $300,000 for Syrian refugees by selling a limited edition Hand of Friendship soap.
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