DEPUTY Tom Barry has criticised Tesco’s actions in relation to the recent high-profile shoplifting case which saw Anthony Worrall Thompson prosecuted for stealing cheese and wine.
“This individual did business with tesco for many years and I am very disappointed with the manner in which he was treated. I’m not saying for one moment that he should not be brought to account or punished for what he did; But I have an issue with the way in which this was done. First of all, they should have taken into consideration the fact that his business was in trouble and he was going through a very difficult period in his life.
“The man panicked, acted irrationally and, essentially, stole a few items of low worth on four occasions. Tesco kept an eye on his activities and what struck me as really strange was that they didn’t, on the first occasion they spotted it happening, approach him and say,’ listen, you let some stuff go through there by mistake, would you ever put them through again’. That would, in effect, have acted as a warning that they knew what was happening and let it be dealt with in that regard.
“But it seems they had a total lack of sensitivity. They saw him a second time, didn’t warn him that time either; saw him a third time, and the fourth time, there was a big palaver, and they were not content with just reprimanding him – they wanted to punish him publicly as well. they wanted to send out a message that they got someone public, someone well recognised. however, their lack of sensitivity, and the fact that he had the bravery to come out and say ‘I don’t know why I did it, I’m getting counselling, I made a mistake’; it really doesn’t reflect well on Tesco.
“He was a good customer of theirs down the years. This incident shows a lack of empathy and judgement. Treating people like this, without the slightest warning, gives the impression that they were taking pleasure out of the embarassment of someone else. They weren’t content with an apology; they wanted to browbeat someone. It’s not an impressive corporate attitude and I think they have done themselves a disservice by acting this way – particularly in the current economic climate.”