Caroline Starmer, a mum of 9-month-old twins, wrote a message on the Facebook group 'Free to Feed' to share her story, and within hours her post had been shared more than 9,000 times by shocked readers who couldn't believe what had happened as she attempted to feed her daughter.
'I feel I need to share a horrific experience I had today at my local primark store in leicester,' Caroline wrote.
'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 5 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.'
Caroline says she has tried to contact Primark for some kind of response, but the assistant store manager has not returned her husband's calls.
'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,' she explained. '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.'
Caroline's post has since been inundated with supportive messages from other outraged mums. 'How dare anyone touch your child without your consent!!! im so angry reading this', one wrote, whilst another said 'If that was me I would of taken my baby from him and knocked him to the ground!!!! Absolutely shocking!'
Others spoke of their positive experiences whilst breastfeeding at Primark, expressing their surprise that Caroline did not receive the same treatment.
'It's horrible when one member of staff can tarnish the image of a shop with their thoughtless behaviour! I nursed my daughter in Primark a couple of years ago and I was offered a cushion! I hope he gets reprimanded for his actions and appropriate training is given,' one of the mothers wrote.
Another agreed - 'This is awful! But I had a VERY different experience whilst in Primark Cardiff store once! I was stood breastfeeding my 4 month old in the underwear section (as you do when they decide they're starving and need feeding NOW), when a shop assistant asked me to come with her. She took me to a room designated for disabled changing and it was full of stock, she then got 2 members of staff to empty the room and got me chair to sit on! I had complete privacy and she told me I could take as long as I wanted!'
Primark later released the following statement on the matter:
'We have investigated this customer’s allegation which we naturally take very seriously indeed.
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.
We have spoken to the security guards on duty. They categorically deny behaving in the way alleged. Furthermore the individuals do not fit the description given by the customer.
We have therefore concluded that the customer allegation is not supported by the available evidence to date. The company would obviously be happy to work with any police investigation into this incident, should this be needed.
We have tried to contact the customer to reassure her about Primark’s practice on breastfeeding.
At Primark, we work hard to provide all the comfort and facilities possible to our customers. Our policy is quite clear. We do not prohibit breastfeeding. In addition, any customer can request a quiet or private area within the store to breastfeed her child and our staff will do all they can to accommodate such a request. Please do not hesitate to ask staff for assistance.'