Thursday 11 November 2010

Legal threat over surgeon's 'Boob Job' cream press comments highlights need for libel law reform

Sense About Science has a good round up on the latest libel threat against a doctor for giving their opinion to the press - in this case a leading consultant plastic surgeon who told the Daily Mail of her doubts about the effectiveness of a £125 'Boob Job' cream.

Dr Dalia Nield of The London Clinic was quoted in an article in the 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 has threatened Dr Nield with libel action.

Scence About Science says: "This is the latest case of a scientist being threatened with libel action for questioning the evidence for medical claims. Dr Simon Singh was sued for criticising the lack of evidence for chiropractic in the treatment of some infant disorders; consultant cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst is being sued by NMT Medical for speaking about data from a clinical trial of a medical device; Dr Ben Goldacre was sued by a vitamin manufacturer for questioning claims to treat HIV/AIDS with vitamins.

"The Government has promised to introduce a stronger public interest defence for libel in its Defamation Bill, due to be published early in 2011, which would protect discussions about science, evidence and health care from the stifling effects of England's current libel laws."

Simon Singh is quoted: "This is yet another libel threat that demonstrates that the Government needs to act urgently and radically to reform our libel law, which clearly silences critics on matters of public interest. In the last month, I have come across six new libel threats, which in turn means that the public only hears half the story."

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