Boots claims charity's contraception campaign led to abuse of staff

The retailer has issued the British Pregnancy Advisory Service with a legal letter that says its campaign to lower emergency contraception prices led to people abusing its staff on social media

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service is in dispute with the high-street chemist Boots over claims that the company’s employees have received abuse after one of the charity’s campaigns.

The charity, which provides reproductive health services at clinics across the country, has been campaigning for Boots to sell a lower-cost version of emergency contraception to women.

The retailer recently said it would sell a cheaper version of its emergency contraception in all of its stores by October.

But the BPAS says that Boots issued it with a legal letter last month in relation to allegations that Boots employees have been abused on social media because of the campaign to lower emergency contraception prices.

Boots claims the charity has published the email addresses of some of its employees.

The BPAS says that the legal letter from Brooks, which was issued on 1 August by the legal firm Schillings LLP, accuses the charity of the facilitation and tacit encouragement of personal abuse that caused distress to senior executives and employees at the company.

But the charity has claimed that Boots has failed to provide evidence that any abuse sent to its employees was specifically from the BPAS campaign and said Boots had "comprehensively misrepresented messages from members of the public sent through the BPAS campaign".

The BPAS also claims that Boots demanded it withdraw a press release detailing the company’s legal warning to the charity.

Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the BPAS, said: "We are pleased to see that in future Boots will be providing a cheaper emergency contraceptive product across its stores nationwide. We are extremely saddened that Boots feels the need to resort to legal warnings against a charity representing the concerns of women in the process."

A statement from Boots said: "As a responsible employer, we actively seek to protect our colleagues from abuse and harassment. In our legal letter to BPAS we made it very clear that we welcome the debate on the provision of EHC, and respect their right to raise this issue with us.

"We asked them simply to remove personal email details from their campaign widget and to agree not to encourage personal abuse of our people. We provided examples of where our employees have received abuse by email and social media in response to BPAS’s campaign.

"BPAS have not yet agreed to do this and we will continue to ask that they agree to our simple request, which was made only to protect the interests of our employees."

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