Cosmetics retailing tycoon to fund aviation environmental action group's Stansted legal costs
Plane Stupid protesters at London's Stansted Airport (photo: Plane Stupid)
Fri 12 Dec 2008 – The wealthy co-founder of international cosmetics retailing company Lush has agreed to help fund the legal costs of the 56 people from environmental direct action group Plane Stupid who were arrested on Monday (December 8) after cutting through the perimeter fencing of London’s Stansted Airport. The protesters chained themselves to makeshift barriers close to the runway, forcing the closure of the airport and the cancellation of 52 flights.
Lush has 600 stores in 44 countries and an annual turnover of £145 million ($215m). The company also has retail outlets at Tokyo’s Narita, Toronto and Orlando, Florida airports, which has brought accusations of hypocrisy.
It uses some of its profits in donations to environmental, animal welfare and humanitarian groups, including supporting the work of Plane Stupid. The company’s website describes Plane Stupid as a “peaceful, imaginative, direct action group working to highlight aviation’s contribution to climate change”.
The co-founder and majority owner of the private company, Mark Constantine, also contributes his own money to the group and will be personally funding the legal costs.
“I do find it a bit odd that environmental protesters can be suddenly treated as terrorists,” he told the media. “Surely it is a good thing that they are encouraging everybody to think about the environment? I cannot see much wickedness in it. Hopefully, the Government will be kind to them.”
Thousands of passengers were left stranded because of cancelled or delayed flights, including one woman who missed her father’s funeral.
“I don’t think it should be necessary to strand passengers but on the other hand we have to stop global warming. In which case, how?” said Constantine.
His company also makes donations to other aviation pressure groups in the UK campaigning against airport expansion or aircraft noise.
Lush has also supported other controversial campaigners, including Sea Shepherd, whose activists endorse a deliberate policy of sinking or sabotaging vessels they believe have violated international whaling laws. It also backs Reprieve UK, the human rights organization campaigning to close down the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.