Soap giant Lush sparks criticism for 'poorly thought out' spy cops campaign

Soap giant Lush has been panned online after launching a campaign aimed at drawing attention to what it calls the 'spy cops' scandal.

Friday, 1st June 2018, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 1st June 2018, 3:32 pm
The Lush campaign. Photo: @UKCopHumour on Twitter

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

Campaign materials have gone up in shop windows, with fake police tape which says 'police have crossed the line' and 'Paid to Lie' with a photo of a police officer.

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The campaign has sparked outcry on social media with many customers vowing to 'never shop at Lush again'.

Twitter account @UKCopHumour was one of the first to highlight Lush's new campaign.

Their account said, alongside this photo: "The latest "advertising" campaign by LUSH UK..... You might now expect a 100% reduction in calls to the Police, given that they're displaying their contempt in their shop windows..."

It went on: "A bit of background is one thing, but in our humble opinion, this is wrong. No-one condones the unethical action of the TINY number of those responsible for these cases - but this campaign is akin to snarling drunks getting in the faces of coppers in their early twenties and telling them that they are to blame for Hillsborough/the Miners strikers etc

"It's a highly irresponsible campaign that targets ALL police and implies that they are ALL corrupt. That's NOT the case and it's unacceptable."

Che Donald, vice chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, called the campaign 'very poorly thought out'.

He said: "This is very poorly thought out campaign @LushLtd & damaging to the overwhelmingly large majority of police who have nothing to do with this undercover enquiry. I will now clear my house of any of your products and my family and friends will never use them again."

Lush said in its campaign: "Undercover police officers have infiltrated the lives, homes, and beds of activists since 1968. Their roles were to infiltrate political groups and collect ‘intelligence’ about planned demonstrations and the individuals involved.

"Activists across the UK are living with the knowledge that they may have been spied upon by undercover police officers, with some even discovering that ex-boyfriends were in fact police spies. As the Public Inquiry into undercover policing continues, Activists are joining forces with Lush to ramp up an awareness-raising campaign."

The campaign Police Spies Out of Lives, which was launched on Friday, aims to highlight how some officers from "extremely secretive police units" initiated long-term, sexual relationships with people they had been sent to spy on.

One Lush shop window features a poster brandishing the slogan "Paid to Lie" and fake police taping saying they "have crossed the line".

The Police Federation called the campaign "an insult to the hard work, professionalism and dedication of police officers throughout the UK", while the widow of a police officer killed on duty said she was "appalled" by it.

Calum Macleod, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "I cannot believe that someone, somewhere, actually thought this campaign was a good idea. All it serves to do is to criticise police officers and encourage an anti-police sentiment.

"Police officers already face enough abuse from those who break the law and are a menace to society, without the need for a cosmetic company to start putting the boot in too."

Disgruntled social media users described the shop windows as "misjudged and offensive" for "vilifying a public service", with some customers saying they'll stop shopping there as a result.

However, a spokeswoman for Police Spies Out Of Lives said the campaign has been "taken completely out of context" and they were not accusing all police of lying.

The group, who secured a public inquiry into the undercover scandal which they have described as being "years behind schedule", said it only aimed to target police from particular units.

Cathy, a campaign member, said: "We thought it was quite obvious that this campaign was directed at very specific police officers in the undercover units - quite notorious units which have since been disbanded.

"The vast majority of police officers are paid to tell the truth. We are lost in trying to understand why a normal police officer would think this is about them."

A spokesman from The Undercover Policing Inquiry insisted their work will be rigorous and objective and that hearings for evidence are expected to begin in June 2019 and will continue for two years.

A spokeswoman from Lush - a store known for their stance on ethical campaigning - said: "The Advertising Standards Authority are assessing complaints they have received against Lush but they are not currently being investigated."