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Beautician wins complaint against Mail on Sunday over 'cosmetic cowboy' claims

A beautician has won a complaint against the Mail on Sunday over an article investigating the rise of treatments being carried out by unqualified practitioners, calling it “the curse of the cosmetic cowboys”.

The article, headlined “You’ve got so many lines you’ll end up like Gordon Ramsay”, was published in the newspaper on 31 December last year and online a day earlier.

It reported on an investigation by the newspaper into cosmetic treatments carried out by “rogue beauticians” doing “dangerous and illegal procedures”.

The article said the investigation followed a “shocking rise in cases of botched treatments”.

Beautician Danielle Hindley was named and pictured in the article as a case study after an undercover journalist booked a “plasma skin tightening” appointment with her.

It reported Hindley had told the journalist that “nothing could go wrong, saying it was ‘one of the easiest treatments I have ever learnt to do’”, and pictured a former client of hers who approached the newspaper with “swollen eyes” and burn marks.

Hindley complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, denying she was a “rogue beautician” or “cosmetic cowboy”.

She said including her details in the context of the article was damaging to her professional reputation and significantly misleading.

Hindley said she was acting within the law and denied any wrongdoing in relation to the reporter or her former client, who had been told the risks of the treatment, IPSO said.

The Mail on Sunday did not accept a breach of the code, telling IPSO there was no suggestion that all the allegations made about beauticians in the main article related to Hindley.

However it offered to publish a clarification to say Hindley is a trained beautician who was legally qualified to carry out the plasma treatment.

IPSO found that the newspaper had not offered sufficient basis for its claim that Hindley had acted improperly or recklessly and upheld a breach of Clause 1 (accuracy).

The Mail on Sunday has now published a fuller correction, which also appears at the top of the amended article online, where all references to Hindley have been removed.

The correction, which noted IPSO had upheld a complaint against the title, said: “In a previous version of this article we suggested that Danielle Hindley, who administers plasma skin tightening treatment, was a ‘rogue beautician’ and a ‘cosmetic cowboy’. 

“We have been asked to confirm, that Ms Hindley is a trained beautician who is legally entitled to carry out the plasma treatment described. We did not have a basis to suggest that Ms Hindley had ‘botched’ treatments, as implied by the article. 

“The general references to ‘cosmetic cowboys’, ‘rogue beauticians’ and ‘illegal procedures’ do not apply to Ms Hindley and we are happy to make that clear.

“We also published a photograph of a former client of Ms Hindley, which said that they had received plasma skin lightening treatment. This was an error. In fact, Ms Hindley does not administer any treatments which lighten the skin.”

The newspaper defended its use of a hidden camera within Hindley’s home by an undercover journalist due to the “great public interest in exposing dangers”, and the small amount of information obtained through subterfuge that was published.

IPSO agreed and did not find a breach of Clause 10 (clandestine devices and subterfuge).

It also cleared the newspaper of a breach of Clause 2 (privacy), as the undercover reporter only went in areas of Hindley’s home that were accessible to clients, and the footage had captured her professional life, not personal, as her home was her place of work.

Read the full IPSO ruling here.

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