In a post about libel reform, the Further Thoughts For The Day blog wrote that “Rodial may sound “sciencey”, and their tag line may be “Nature. Science. Skin care”, but their actions in suing show them to be the very anti-thesis of scientific debate.”
The same blog followed up with some Questions for Rodial. The blogger contacted the firm by telephone. Here’s what happened:
I called Rodial, and I was told that they couldn’t answer any of my questions at all. I asked why, and the receptionist said “I’m not sure”.
Other bloggers have also contacted the company to ask a few questions. Rhys Morgan asked if they had any scientific evidence for their product, Boob Job:
In the case of Rodial. Ltd, they make claims about increasing breast size without providing a shred of evidence. I know this because as stated earlier, I phoned them up to ask for the evidence. They told me that they had done trials, but were not willing to produce this evidence to me because I was a member of the public. I leave you, the reader, to decide exactly what that suggests.
Rhys has also taken action and reported Rodial to Trading Standards. Edit: as have others.
The Skeptical Science blog comments on a Guardian article about the case, writing that “…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.”
Professor David Colquhoun also covers the case in an article about English libel laws threatening science and honesty, and as ever speaks bluntly:
The latest case concerns Plastic surgeon threatened for comment on ‘Boob Job’ cream. She’s been sued for doing her job by saying that a cream costing £125 per jar cannot, as claimed, increase your bust size.
Not content with threatening the surgeon. The company, Rodial Ltd. also threatened Sense About Science if they publicised the case. They haven’t yielded to that threat.
Last but by no means least, there is a post by Prateek Buch: Two chilling reminders of the urgent need for #LibelReform.
This is the latest in a long line of cases where apparently legitimate concerns over a product or treatment are treated as libellous, with comments made in the public interest being shut down by threatening heavy-handed legal action
For links to media coverage of the case, see this page at Sense About Science.
Here’s one I missed: bigger boobs or bust from Maria Wolters. And another: Plastic Surgeon Threatened for Questioning Rodial Breast Cream from a Californian plastic surgeon. British Beauty Blogger links to Claire Coleman, who writes:
…this all adds to what is being called the creeping libel chill – the suppressing of information which I think the public have a right to have access to, and the attempt to stop people asking questions that should be asked, and demanding evidence that should be available.
The Inforrm blog concludes that: “It seems highly unlikely that any libel action will result from Dr Nield’s remarks. The case does not, however, support any general arguments for libel reform or the protection of science writing.”
FinchesBlog also has a post up.
Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes is once again blogging about legal chill here.