26/09/2013 02:28 BST | Updated 26/09/2013 11:31 BST

Asda And Tesco Pull 'Mental Patient' And 'Psycho Ward' Halloween Costumes (PICTURES)

Asda and Tesco have been forced to apologise after facing a fierce backlash for advertising tastless fancy dress costumes making light of mental health issues.

Asda sparked a Twitter storm after their product, featuring someone covered in blood and brandishing a machete, was branded as a "mental patient fancy dress costume".


The Halloween costume, which is designed to look like a blood-splattered straitjacket with ragged edges and featured a mask and a fake meat cleaver, was on sale for £20 through the supermarket giant's clothing arm George.

Asda's 'Mental patient'

Following outrage, including from one "stunned" mental health charity, the store offered "sincere apologies for the offence it has caused".

Tesco became the second retailer to apologise, saying it is "really sorry for any offence caused".

The adult bright orange costume called "Psycho Ward" had the word "Committed" printed on the back.

Tesco's controversial costume

The website description of the costume says: "Dress up as the most thrilling psycho killer character of all time in this Psycho Ward costume, consisting of a bright orange, long-sleeved boiler suit with zip fastener to front, 'Psycho Ward' printed on the chest.

"The same words (are) printed on the back in larger letters with a prominent 'Committed' stamp just below."

A Tesco spokeswoman said: "We're really sorry for any offence this has caused and we are removing this product from sale."

Many took to Twitter to express their disgust at the description including former footballer Stan Collymore, who has a well-documented battle with depression.

He tweeted: "Dear ASDA, nice stereotype of '' Mental patients''. Something you'd expect from the ###. A f***ing joke."

"Do you actually realise how many people are hanging themselves because of being frightened of the stigma? Wording is CLEAR. MENTAL PATIENT."

Former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who has also suffered from depression, joined in the furore this morning, encouraging other big brands to withdraw similar products.


Asda Isn't Alone: The Disturbing Halloween Costumes That Mock Mental Health

Asda apologised for the incident in a series of tweets and said it would be making a donation to mental health charity Mind.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Asda, which is owned by US retail giant Walmart, said the sale had been a "completely unacceptable error".

It is understood the costume had been on sale through Asda's clothing outlet George for two days, before being withdrawn from sale on Wednesday morning after being spotted internally.

Asda said the product had been removed from the website in the afternoon but the relevant page remained visible for a few hours.

The charity Rethink Mental Illness also took to Twitter to say it was "stunned" by the costume's description, but later thanked Asda "for responding" to the "concerns".

Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the charity, said: "I am pleased to see Asda has now removed the costume from their website, but the fact it was ever there in the first place is completely unacceptable.

"This costume is breathtakingly insensitive, and it's shocking that Asda ever felt it was an appropriate product to sell.

"There is already so much stigma surrounding mental illness, and 'joke' products like this only serve to make things worse."

Katie Dalton of Welsh mental health charity Gofal tweeted: "Dear @asda, did you take 1 second to consider how it would affect the 1 in 4 people who experience mental health problems in any given year?

"Dear @asda, how on earth did you come to the conclusion that this is an appropriate fancy dress costume? Disgraceful."