Cosmetics chain says tweets of politicians added to decision to strip displays from 104 shops

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The cosmetics retailer Lush has removed posters highlighting the misconduct of undercover police from the windows of all its stores after saying that shop staff had been intimidated by former officers.

The chain told of the posters’ removal on Thursday, saying it needed to protect staff in its 104 stores. The move came less than a week after it started the campaign to publicise the alleged wrongdoing of undercover officers who had infiltrated political groups.

The Lush campaign was criticised by the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and others, as being anti-police, poorly judged and potentially damaging to large numbers of officers who had nothing to do with the alleged wrongdoing.

As part of the campaign the retailer put up posters of a model dressed both as apoliceman and an activist, with the slogans “Police have crossed the line” and “Paid to lie”, alongside fake police tape.

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There have been allegations that people disliking the campaign have been going into stores and intimidating staff to make them take down the posters. On Saturday, a day after the start of the campaign, Lush said some of its branches had removed the posters following “intimidation of our shop staff from ex-police officers and unhelpful tweets from those in high office”.

Lush said in a statement on Thursday: “For the safety of our staff we have suspended the window.” It is unclear if the posters will be reinstated or replaced with another image at a later stage in the campaign, which is due to end on 18 June.

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The campaign, which includes a videocontinues on its website. Working with groups campaigning for the victims of the undercover police, Lush is seeking to draw attention to the criticism of a much-delayed public inquiry that is examining the activities of police spies since 1968.

One of the groups was Police Spies Out of Lives, which supports women who were deceived into intimate relationships with undercover officers.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “We condemn the sort of threats that some Lush staff have experienced in the last few days.” She added that many members of the public had come into Lush stores and offered their support for the campaign.

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Following the criticism a large number of politicians, lawyers, union officials,victims, and a whistleblower, have defended Lush. Two former wives of undercover officers and the son of a police spy who abandoned him have also supported the retailer.

Dave Smith, a trade unionist who was spied on, said he had seen that the displays had “been blanked out due to threats to staff”. He added: “All workers are entitled to a safe working environment – intimidation, abuse and threats are totally unacceptable.”

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