A breastfeeding campaign group has been forced to close in the wake of the Primark breastfeeding controversy. The Free to Feed Facebook page was set up to campaign “against the discrimination of breastfeeding mothers”. So when a mum posted on the page that she had her baby snatched away from her breast by a security guard in a Primark store – the page shared the mum’s claims saying they’d left them “sick with rage” and demanded “more than a public apology” from the store.
But later as it turned out the alleged incident may not be true, the page’s founders Emily and Emma say they started to receive “personal threats and attacks”. They’ve now decided to close down the Facebook page that has 17k likes. “We are just two mothers, trying our best to make a difference, and we definitely aren’t going to hang around to be abused and criticised for trying to do the right thing,” a statement on the page reads.
The post that started the row came from Caroline Starmer who claimed her baby was physically removed while she tried to breastfeed at a Primark in Leicester on Monday.
“I feel I need to share a horrific experience I had today at my local Primark store in Leicester,” she wrote on the Free to Feed page. “My 9.5 month old daughter started crying, needing a feed and the queues were pretty long, so to save my daughter the upset, and the other customers too, I decided to find a quiet spot out the way of others and feed her discreetly.
“Within five minutes of doing so, I was approached by a security guard who asked me to vacate the premises to feed my daughter. I stood my ground and stated my rights, that I can legally feed where I want.. Just for the security officer to physically remove my daughter from my breast and walk down the store with her, saying if I wanted my daughter, then I was to come and get her.
“Obviously, I went and retrieved my daughter as soon as my senses got the better of me. And I went straight to the local police station afterwards to lodge a complaint.
“My husband has been on the phone to the assistant manager of the Primark store on and off all afternoon, and they said they would investigate it. However, since he admitted he could see me on CCTV, he hasn’t called back since. My confidence is shot, and my poor daughter hasn’t been herself all afternoon.”
After Free to Feed shared the post, a spokesman for Primark said they were urgently investigating the incident – checking CCTV for evidence – but no proof was found. “The CCTV footage, reviewed by store management, shows the customer in the Leicester store quite clearly during the time in question. We can see no evidence that she was approached by anyone during this period,” they said, stressing that mums are allowed to breastfeed in their stores.
“We did our best to approach the matter in a diplomatic way and reported the story as it unfolded,” the statement on Free to Feed states. “We specifically deterred people from staging a protest at Primark because we wanted to know the facts.”