A doctor has been threatened with a libel action after claiming that a £125 breast enhancement cream did not work.
Dalia Nield, a consultant plastic surgeon at the private London Clinic, was quoted in a newspaper saying it was "highly unlikely" that the cream would increase a woman's breast size.
The manufacturer, Rodial Ltd, claimed that the cream could increase a bust by 2.5cm without the need for surgery. It recommended that women rub it into their chests every day for 56 days. Celebrity users are reported to include Scarlett Johansson, Victoria Beckham and Kelly Brook.
Ms Nield, who has 19 years of experience, said the manufacturers had not given information on the exact ingredients in the product, how they increased the size of the breast or what tests they had carried out. She added that it might even harm the skin and the breasts, rendering it "potentially dangerous".
Rodial Ltd has threatened Ms Nield with a libel action for questioning its claims. Ms Nield said she stood by her comments.
The case is the latest example of a scientist being threatened with legal action after speaking out on a matter of public health.
Dr Simon Singh, the author and broadcaster, was sued by the British Chiropractic Association after criticising the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of the method in treating certain child disorders. Scientists and freedom of speech campaigners condemned British libel laws and argued that Dr Singh had a right to express his opinion in print. The BCA dropped the case.
Sense about Science, a charity which is supporting Ms Nield, said there was growing frustration among scientists about the use of the law to close down debate. Robert Dougans, Ms Nield's solicitor, who also acted for Dr Singh, said: "This should not happen to doctors and scientists. They should be in the laboratory or the operating theatre, advancing learning and treating people. They should not be forced to meet with solicitors just because they speak out on matters of public health."
Ms Nield said yesterday: "As a surgeon I am well aware of the necessity for claims on medical products to be based upon rigorous scientific testing, as well as the possible dangers which can result from treatments. It is my duty to speak out when products making these claims are not backed up by evidence."
A spokesperson for Rodial declined to comment.