Lush beauty store attacked for ‘distasteful’ criticisms of undercover policing

A shop sign for Lush in central London (Nick Ansell/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The high street cosmetic store Lush is facing a backlash after featuring a “damaging and distasteful” campaign criticising undercover policing in over 100 of their stores.

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.

Lush 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.

“We fully support them in having proper police numbers, correctly funded to fight crime, violence and to be there to serve the public at our times of need.

“This campaign is not about the real police work done by those frontline officers who support the public every day – it is about a controversial branch of political undercover policing that ran for many years before being exposed.”