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Shoppers threaten to boycott Lush over controversial campaign calling police officers liars

A campaign that British beauty brand Lush says is meant to “highlight abuse that people face when their lives have been infiltrated by undercover police” has sparked backlash over claims that it brands law enforcement officers as liars.

Lush has teamed up with activists for Police Spies Out of Lives, which offers support to those negatively affected after having “intimate relationships with undercover police officers.” The brand’s site features a blog post sharing one woman’s experience of dating a man she later learned was an undercover officer. She claims he was spying on her and the activist group to which she belonged.

One of Lush’s London stores. (Photo: Rahman Hassani/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Lush stores in the U.K. have also been outfitted with posters promoting the campaign. The imagery shows a man wearing both street clothes and a police uniform, with the tag line: “Paid to lie.”

While activists have praised the beauty brand’s efforts to raise awareness about “spy cops,” many shoppers say the campaign goes too far.

The retailer addressed one shopper’s concerns on Twitter, insisting that the provocative imagery was not intended as “an anti-police campaign.”

That defense hasn’t done much to stem the outrage, with many shoppers calling for a boycott. Others have flooded the brand’s Facebook page with negative reviews.

“Going to put all my bath bombs down the toilet after your disrespectful and cheap shots at those who keep us all safe,” read one angry review.

Police Spies Out of Lives has responded to the controversy by retweeting messages supporting their mission.

For more information about the #SpyCops campaign, read Lush’s press release on the goals.

The brand has also issued a statement with the same content to clarify the campaign’s message:

“This is not an anti-state/anti-police campaign,” it reads. “We are aware that the police forces of the U.K. are doing an increasingly difficult and dangerous job while 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.

“Our campaign is to highlight this small and secretive subset of undercover policing that undermines and threatens the very idea of democracy. There is an age-old understanding that our government and public institutions are there to protect and preserve the rights and safety of the public. In the case of these secretive undercover units, their work went well beyond the boundaries of acceptable police tactics and is now the subject of an ongoing public inquiry, which was instigated by {U.K. Prime Minister] Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary when the scale and scope of the breaches of protocols started to become clear.

“This public inquiry needs help from the public to keep it on track and ensure that this one opportunity for full honesty and disclosure is not lost or squandered. All citizens should be concerned when human rights are abandoned by those in power.  The police themselves have admitted, in their public apology to seven of the females deceived into long-term relationships with police spies, that these actions were ‘a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power, and caused significant trauma.’ In a recent court case the police admitted the actions amounted to ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’ breaching Article 3 of the European Declaration of Human Rights.

“Those victims are now asking that the public inquiry demands that the undercover units release a full list of the undercover names used by their operatives, release a list of which campaign groups were targeted, and also that they release the information and data entries they hold on individuals whose lives and homes were infiltrated during these operations.  Without this full disclosure there is no way of knowing the full extent of what happened during the dark years of this renegade secret policing operation — and that full disclosure might not happen unless the public demand it.”

Updated, 9:20 a.m.: Lush’s statement has been added to the original article.

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