Mail on Sunday pays damages to beautician wrongly named in 'cosmetic cowboy' article

The publisher of the Mail on Sunday will pay substantial damages to a single mother who claims she attempted suicide after being featured in an article about “rogue beauticians” and “cosmetic cowboys”.

The article, headlined: “You’ve got so many lines you’ll end up like Gordon Ramsay”, published on 30 December 2017, reported an investigation by the paper, claiming to reveal “shocking rise in cases of botched treatments”.

Hindley was named and pictured as a case study alongside the story after an undercover journalist booked a “plasma skin tightening” appointment at her Leeds home, where her beauty salon business is based.

Hindley’s solicitor, Jonathan Coad of Keystone Law, told London’s High Court the defamatory sting of the article was that she was a “cowboy beautician who regularly botches procedures as a result of knowingly administering highly dangerous treatments without adequate care, thereby putting her clients at risk of permanent disfigurement and life-changing injuries”.

“There was no truth in these very grave allegations,” Coad added.

Hindley originally went to press watchdog the Independent Press Standards Organisation which upheld her complaint under Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, ruling that the newspaper had not offered sufficient basis for its claim that she had acted improperly or recklessly.

But it cleared the newspaper of breaches of Clause 10 (clandestine devices and subterfuge) and Clause 2 (privacy), as the undercover reporter only went in areas of Hindley’s home that were accessible to clients, therefore capturing only her professional life, not personal.

The Mail on Sunday published a correction noting that Hindley is a “trained beautician who is legally entitled to carry out the plasma treatment described”.

It added that the general references to “rogue beauticians” and “cosmetic cowboys” were not intended to apply to her.

The correction was also added to the top of the online story, which remains online with all references to Hindley removed.

Hindley followed her IPSO complaint with legal action and in September last year secured an offer from the newspaper to pay her “substantial” damages, legal costs and publish an apology – which has now been added to the existing online correction.

The legal action was concluded with an agreed statement read in front of Mr Justice Jay at the High Court yesterday.

Coad told the court Hindley had accepted the Mail on Sunday’s offer of amends as she was “weary of this long-running dispute… and anxious to start rebuilding her life and that of her son”.

“The article had a devastating impact on Ms Hindley and on her young son,” he said.

“It caused irreparable damage to both of their lives and inflicted enormous damage on Ms Hindley’s career and finances.”

In a separate statement, Hindley said the article had “gravely damaged” her professional reputation, personal credibility and her mental health.

“What the Mail on Sunday did to me was too cruel. I felt trapped and unsafe and I attempted suicide as a result,” she said.

She added: “…I did nothing wrong, yet the Mail on Sunday abused my privacy and pushed me to the point where my son almost had no mother. And it has taken two years to achieve today’s vindication.”

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