Lush and the police – the right to be wrong

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

When I read that High Street chain Lush had used its shop windows to make a very political statement I was taken aback.

It didn’t seem the right place – whether you agreed or not with the sentiment – to publicise such a strong view on such a controversial subject.

The so-called ‘Spy Cops’ issue concerns the alleged inappropriate actions of undercover police officers who infiltrated political activists.

Peterborough suddenly found itself at the centre of the story after an off-duty Cambridgeshire cop took exception to the display in the Lush store in Queensgate and raised it with staff, who shortly afterwards removed a poster.

The Police Federation and many others were cockahoop, but others were less impressed.

So should Lush have got involved? Despite my initial shock at their action, I think they have every right to.

Concerns that businesses should not be so directly involved in politics become irrelevant when you remind yourself how much money is pumped into the coffers of political parties by commercial organisations.

Equally, the police officer, Paddy Reeve, has every right to make his views known to the store.

There is too much outrage exchanged between folk with opposing views fuelled by the relentless march of virtually unrestrained social media.

The Spy Cops issue is a hugely complex and important and is the subject of an ongoing public inquiry.

If an undercover police officer’s actions resulted in stopping a terrorist blowing up a school bus then who cares if he acted inappropriately?

If an undercover police officer’s actions resulted in invading the privacy (and more) of alaw-abiding citizen campaigning for social justice we should all care if he acted inappropriately.

Which is why both Lush and Mr Reeve have a right even if they are wrong.