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


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

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Published: 2020-05-25
Pages:177 to 194
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How to Cite
Stephens Griffin, N. (2020) “#Notallcops: Exploring ‘Rotten Apple’ Narratives In Media Reporting of Lush’s 2018 ‘Spycops’ Undercover Policing Campaign”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 9(4), pp. 177-194. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v9i4.1518.

Author Biography

Northumbria University
 United Kingdom

Nathan Stephens Griffin is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences at Northumbria University. His research interests include animal advocacy, environmentalism, and other forms of political activism, with a particular interest in the criminalisation of political protest. He is also interested in biographical, visual and graphic narrative approaches to social research. He is the author of ‘Understanding Veganism: Biography and Identity‘ which was published by Palgrave in 2017.