The cosmetics chain Lush has resumed its poster campaign highlighting the misconduct of undercover police officers who infiltrated political groups.
Lush had removed an initial version of its campaign poster from displays at its 104 stores last Thursday after it said its shop staff had been intimidated by former police officers. The campaign had been criticised by the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and others as being anti-police and insulting to police officers.
On Wednesday, a new poster was installed in the shop windows of the chain. Without a photograph, the text draws attention to how undercover police spied on more than 1,000 political groups while “infiltrating lives, homes and beds of citizens for 50 years”.
The poster criticises the public inquiry into the police spies as ”increasingly secret and going nowhere”. The inquiry has so far cost £10m and is yet to hear any evidence amid accusations that its chair, Sir John Mitting, will allow too much of it to be heard in private.
Lush had launched its campaign at the start of the month, with a poster of a model dressed both as a policeman and an activist, with the slogans “Police have crossed the line” and “Paid to lie”.
It led to criticism from Javid, who said: “Never thought I would see a mainstream British retailer running a public advertising campaign against our hardworking police. This is not a responsible way to make a point.”
Ché Donald, the vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: “This is very poorly thought out campaign and damaging to the overwhelmingly large majority of police who have nothing to do with this undercover inquiry.”
Critics have been accused of going into stores and intimidating staff to make them take down the posters.
Supporters of the Lush campaign say the criticism and calls to boycott the chain backfired as the controversy has led to many more people hearing about the misconduct of the undercover units, including the deception of women into long-term relationships.
A woman known as “Alison”, who was deceived into a five-year intimate relationship by undercover officer Mark Jenner, said: “While I accept that those members of the public with no knowledge or understanding of the wrongdoing perpetrated by these units may have initially misread the central campaign image, I do not believe this is true of the home secretary.
“He knows exactly what we’re asking of him, and, instead of responding to requests to discuss our concerns, he ignores us and rubs salt into our wounds by attempting to de-legitimise our campaign aims.”
Lush drew support – in letters to the Guardian – from two ex-wives of undercover officers and the son of a police spy who was abandoned by his father at the age of two. He and his mother only found out he was a police spy two decades later.