#Notallcops: Exploring ‘Rotten Apple’ Narratives In Media Reporting Of Lush’s 2018 ‘Spycops’ Undercover Policing Campaign

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle




Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Early online date25 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2020
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article offers a commentary on the media framing of high-street ‘ethical cosmetics’ firm Lush’s 2018 ‘paid to lie’ campaign. The viral nature of Lush’s intervention into the undercover policing of activism in the UK highlights the significance of media reporting in the construction of narratives surrounding policing and activism. Based on a qualitative content analysis of articles published online in the immediate aftermath of the campaign launch, this article argues that the intensely polarised debate following Lush’s ‘paid to lie’ campaign was representative of a wider discursive framing battle that persists. Within this battle, the state and police establishment promote ‘rotten apple’ explanations of the undercover policing scandal, which seek to individualise blame, and shirk institutional accountability (Punch, 2003). This is significant as identifying systemic dimensions to the spycops scandal is a key focus for activists involved in the on-going Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) (Schlembach, 2016).

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