Lush 'anti-spy cops' campaign criticised

Photo of Lush window display Image copyright Laura Storr

Cosmetics company Lush has been heavily criticised on social media for a campaign aimed at drawing attention to the so-called UK "spy cops" scandal.

Lush says it is highlighting "the ongoing undercover policing scandal, where officers have infiltrated the lives, homes and beds of activists".

Many on social media have accused the company of attacking the police and have called the campaign "disgusting".

But in response, Lush said it was not "an anti-police campaign".

The firm said UK police forces were doing a difficult job with less funding, and it wanted instead to highlight a "secretive subset of undercover policing" that undermined democracy.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it wouldn't be taking any further action as "the matter is outside our remit".

The Police Federation representing England and Wales, which had written an open letter of complaint to the ASA, tweeted that it was "disappointed" by the response.

'Fantastic officers'

Twitter account @UKCopHumour was one of the first to react to the campaign.

The account, which says it tries "to show the human side of our fantastic police officers", suggested Lush would no longer call on police if it ever needed them.

A public inquiry into claims of wrongdoing by undercover officers who infiltrated activist groups in England and Wales was set up in 2015.

Lush has said its campaign was designed to urge Home Secretary Sajid Javid to listen to campaigners who have accused the inquiry of protecting officers.

However, Che Donald, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, described the campaign as "very poorly thought out".

Mr Donald was one of those who used the hashtag #FlushLush when stating he would not use Lush products again.

The hashtag was used almost 2,000 times on Twitter in the first 12 hours after the campaign was launched.

Image copyright Lush / TWITTER
Image caption Lush UK has changed its social media branding to reflect the campaign

A number of police officers have criticised the campaign, with one tweeting to say he was "heartbroken".

Christine Fulton who co-founded the charity Care Of Police Survivors (COPS), which supports the family of police offers who are killed on duty, wrote that she was "appalled".

In response to another tweet, Lush wrote: "To clear this up, 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."

In a statement released on its website, the Dorset-based company said: "This is not an anti-state/anti-police campaign. We are aware that the police forces of the UK are doing an increasingly difficult and dangerous job whilst having their funding slashed.

"Our campaign is to highlight this small and secretive subset of undercover policing that undermines and threatens the very idea of democracy."

Head of the National Police Chiefs' Council, Sara Thornton, said the body fully accepted that some undercover policing operations in the past were "a violation of the victims' human rights" and action had been taken to prevent it happening to others.

She added: "While it may have been well-intended, this campaign from Lush UK is both insulting and damaging to the tens of thousands of officers who place themselves in harm's way to protect the public on a daily basis, and who have nothing at all to do with the undercover inquiry."

The Lush UK Facebook page has received 19,000 negative reviews, mostly in the past 24 hours.

Image copyright Facebook

Others were more sympathetic to Lush, but suggested the intention of the campaign might not have been clear to the majority of people.

One Twitter user applauded the "brilliant, provocative and brave" campaign.

The campaign is set to run at all Lush shops in the UK until Sunday 17 June.

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