Three national newspaper website publishers have agreed to pay a cosmetic surgeon substantial damages after defamatory articles were published about a woman’s “facelift”, a High Court judge has been told.
A lawyer representing Sultan Hassan, who appears on the Channel 4 series Embarrassing Bodies, outlined the details of a settlement to Mr Justice Murray at a High Court hearing in London on Monday.
Leo Dawkins said that in August and September 2022, Hassan was “seriously defamed” in a series of articles published on the websites of three national newspapers.
Dawkins said News Group Newspapers Ltd, publisher of The Sun’s website, Associated Newspapers Ltd, publisher of Mail Online, and MGN Ltd, publisher of the Mirror website, had accepted that allegations contained in articles published in August were false and defamatory.
He said News Group had published an article headed “I got a £17k facelift after falling pregnant with twins at 51 but ended up looking like ET”; Mail Online had written an article headed “Mother, 54, claims she looks like ‘E.T.’”, and an article on mirror.co.uk was headed “Pregnant woman left looking like ET after facelift”.
Dawkins said the articles were based on false information the publishers had obtained from an agency called Triangle News Group Ltd.
He said Hassan was an award-winning cosmetic surgeon who was regarded as a leading surgeon in the field of plastic surgery and was lead surgeon at the UK-based cosmetic surgery clinic Elite Surgical.
He said Hassan had carried out an operation professionally and properly and had been shocked and appalled at the publication of the allegations.
“The articles alleged that the claimant carried out a procedure on the patient that she neither asked for nor consented to, which he then botched, causing her unnecessary pain and leaving her feeling suicidal,” Dawkins told the judge.
“The claimant carried out the operation professionally, properly and in the manner he had explained to the patient, who had given her prior consent.”
He said the three publishers now accept that all these allegations are false and should never have been published.
Dawkins said the publishers had agreed to join in the reading of this statement, in an effort to vindicate Hassan’s reputation and set the record straight, and to pay Hassan substantial damages together with his legal costs.
A barrister representing the three publishers confirmed what Dawkins had said, accepted that there was “no truth in the defamatory allegations” and offered sincere apologies to Hassan.
Dawkins said the three publishers had removed the articles from their websites shortly after solicitors representing Hassan wrote to complain.
He said unfortunately by that time the allegations had been picked up and republished by other websites.
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