Surgeon who questions "Boob Job" cream threatened with libel action

A long time ago, when I worked for a glossy magazine, I was asked to try a Rodial product in order to tackle my “problem area”. Tummy Tuck –– 100 quid for 125 ml –– claims it is “clinically proven to reduce the abdominal area by up to 2 centimetres in 8 weeks.” I thought it was total bollocks but I doubt I even hinted at that in print.

One thing you work out early on in magazines is that you don’t criticise advertisers. That’s why the big brands feature so prominantly in most fashion magazines. Advertising in magazines ensures a quid pro quo of favourable coverage.

So I was interested to hear about Rodial’s latest exploits:

One of Britain’s leading consultant plastic surgeons has been threatened with libel action by the manufacturer of a £125 ‘Boob Job’ cream for speaking out about her doubts of its effectiveness. Dr Dalia Nield of The London Clinic was quoted in an article in the Daily Mail on 1st October 2010 saying that it was ‘highly unlikely’ the ‘Boob Job’ cream would increase a woman’s breast size. The manufacturer, Rodial Limited had claimed that the cream, reported to be a favourite of Scarlett Johansson, can increase breast size by 2.5cm. Dr Nield said the company had not provided a full analysis of tests on the cream and that if its claims that fat cells moved around the body were true it could be potentially dangerous. Rodial Limited has threatened Dr Nield with libel action. Dr Nield stands by her comments.

The libel campaign brings together stange bedfellows:  Claire Coleman a freelance journalist who occaisionally covers a beauty beat for Grazia, Sunday Times Style and the Daily Mail tweeted an appeal for fellow beauty journalists to sign the Libel Reform petition pointing out the case is going the make it harder to get expert comment for features.

Blogging about the case she said “This isn’t just about one doctor, one cream, and one litigious company, it’s about big brands trying to control what you hear about them, and it’s worryingly Orwellian.”

Former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris commented: “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.”

In the beauty industry, where its already hard to get the truth, this case is going to make it even harder.