Plastic surgery campaigner targeted

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A MAN who has run a two-year campaign to stop plastic surgery clinics making extravagant claims has found himself the target of mystery phone calls and strange visits to his home.

Asem Mohammed, of west London, has successfully complained to the Advertising Standards Authority on almost 50 occasions about some of Britain's largest private cosmetic surgery clinics.

Clinics such as The Pountney Clinic, the Nobel Clinic and Transform Medical Group have all been found by the authority to have made misleading claims in their adverts.

Mr Mohammed's campaign to highlight the claims of these clinics has been so successful that in December the ASA issued a formal warning note to magazines to try to get them to stop running adverts which have repeated the misleading claims. However, after being named in a newspaper article in January about the activities of private clinics Mr Mohammed has started receiving strange phone calls and visits.

On 10 February, a man in a red BMW claiming to represent an insurance company visited Mr Mohammed at home and asked for information about who lived in the house. When Mr Mohammed pressed the man for his identity he refused to give it, but admitted representing "a clinic".

The Independent has since learned that the car belongs to Alan Foster, sales manager of the Nobel Clinic, a Surrey-based hair-replacement clinic which Mr Mohammed has taken to the ASA on numerous occasions. When The Independent contacted Mr Foster he refused to answer any questions about Mr Mohammed or the red BMW and switched off his mobile phone.

Half an hour after the man in the red BMW visited Mr Mohammed, a woman calling herself Sylvia from the Nobel Clinic phoned him to say the clinic was planning legal action about his complaints to the ASA - despite the fact they had all been upheld.

Mr Mohammed has also been plagued by phone calls from people variously claiming to be from BT, requesting his telephone account number; his bank, claiming a computer error meant they needed his account number; and a call claiming to be from the ASA looking for his address - which the ASA has had for two years. "I'm now pretty suspicious and I log the time and date of when these calls happen," he said.

Mr Mohammed began his campaign against cosmetic clinics' advertising after a friend was disfigured when a nose operation went wrong. His work has been strengthened by the efforts of Anne Clwyd, Labour MP for Cynon Valley, who has tried to have private cosmetic clinics licensed. Dr David Sharpe, chairman of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, has also supported his campaign