Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Next gives dad £500 after asking him to show colostomy bag in shoplifting suspicion

Lee Winters-Jones says staff thought he was hiding shoplifting goods. Credit: Wales News Service

High Street chain Next has given £500 compensation to a father who was asked by a suspicious shop assistant to reveal what was hidden under his jumper - and forced to reveal his colostomy bag.

Crohn's disease sufferer Lee Winters-Jones, 31, was followed by the Next employee as he made his way around the shop.

And he said he was "humiliated" when he was forced to show him his medical pouch as shoppers looked on.

The father-of-two, who uses a walking stick, told how he felt at having to prove both his innocence and his illness in full public view.

Mr Winters-Jones, from Colwyn Bay in north Wales, said: "We were only in Next for a couple of minutes, but I did notice a guy had followed us down the stairs but I didn't really think anything of it."

After Next we walked to Marks & Spencer which is quite a long way away.

I can only walk slowly and I've got a walking stick, but my free hand does tend to hold my colostomy bag, it's a self conscious thing.

After ten minutes, he just came up to me and said that he had a reason to believe that I had stolen some suit trousers.

I felt forced to show him that underneath my jumper was my colostomy bag, and I told him that he had discriminated against me, he denied this.

He said a quick sorry, then he just walked off.

It was a horrible experience, I felt very shaken up there was a lot of people in the store, it was a public shaming and I hadn't even done something.

– Lee Winters-Jones
Credit: PA

Next has apologised for the incident in their Prestatyn store.

The retailer originally offered Mr Winter-Jones £200 in compensation - but have now raised it to £500.

We would like to pass on our sincere apologies for any distress caused to Mr Winters-Jones.

We are currently investigating this incident as a matter of urgency and liaising with the management team both at the store and head office to ensure that something like this does not happen again."

– Next spokesperson

The Colostomy Association told ITV News improvements in staff training was essential.

Many people with a stoma in the UK encounter situations similar to Mr Winter-Jones, whether it is accusations of shoplifting or being searched at airport security.

While we understand the need for companies to be vigilant, many people with a stoma are left feeling embarrassed or humiliated due to lack of understanding from staff.

Around 1 in 500 people live with a stoma in the UK and increased public awareness and improved staff training is essential in improving the lives of tens of thousands of people with a stoma across the UK.

– Colostomy Association