Boobs and UK Libel reform

Threre was an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday… (as a side note, its always the Guardian that appears to have the really insightful interesting articles … is that because they are more or less the only UK paper that is not owned by a bond villain :-) )

OK, so here is what is happening … a prominent British plastic surgeon has been threatened with a libel action by the manufacturer of a cosmetic cream because she publicly questioned, in a newspaper article, whether it worked as the company claimed.  So once again the British Libel laws are being deployed to bully and stifle legitimate comments that are in the public interest. It reads …

Rodial Limited claims that its £125 Boob Job cream can increase a woman’s breast size, if applied regularly, by up to 8.4%. According to the company’s website, Boob Job works “with your natural fat cells. As the fat cells move around the body after eating, boob job ‘blocks’ the fat into the area where the product has been applied, so the bust and décolleté areas. You will see a gradual increase in cup size within 56 days as well as gaining an instant lifting and firming effect.”

Dalia Nield of The London Clinic was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying it was “highly unlikely” that the Boob Job cream could do what it claimed. She said that the company had not provided details of the tests carried out on the cream and that if its claims on moving fat cells were true, then the product could be dangerous.

So, there are two issues of concern here:

  1. An appropriately qualified subject matter expert has questioned some claims being made by cosmetic firm for which there is no evidence. In response, the law is being deployed to both gag and bully. This is completely unacceptable, it is vital and in the interests of the public for open debates to take place. If the claim is true, all they need to do is to publish the evidence. If their claim is not true, which appears to be the case, then we are all being ripped off, or even put in danger, so they need to be stopped.
  2. The current state of English libal laws are quite frankly insane. Even if you win, the costs involved are excessive, so the net effect is that large rogue corporations are free stiffle any ligimate critisism.

But the article puts it quite well …

Former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, who speaks on behalf of the Libel Reform Campaign, said: “This sort of libel threat is an unacceptable form of bullying of clinicians and researchers on a matter where the public interest demands the maximum possible scientific and media debate, and it is why radical libel reform is both vital and urgent. The cases we hear about – where doctors and scientists, and the newspaper or journal, stand up to the threat of costly and uncertain court action – are only the tip of the iceberg because most will simply be forced to retreat in the face of a libel suit.”

However, lets let a doctor have the last word here …

Fazel Fatah, consultant plastic surgeon and president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said that doctors have a duty of care to patients and the public at large. “[They] should be able to give their considered opinions and show scepticism, without fear of a libel suit, when concerns are raised regarding unsubstantiated claims about products or procedures that are sold directly to the public without available and verified evidence of efficacy and safety.”

Click here to read the full article … and click here to go to the UK Libel Reform site so that you can learn how you can sign their petition and also get involved and help.

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