Ex-model gets £93,000 for 'needless' liposuction

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The Independent Online

A former male model whose career was wrecked by "unnecessary" liposuction was awarded £93,384 in compensation in the High Court yesterday, having made a claim for £1.3m.

Mark Russell, 35, from Highthorne Court, Leeds, was awarded the cash for for what the High Court judge, Mr Justice Wright, described as "unnecessary and unjustifiable" cosmetic surgery on his face in 1989. Russell was said to be "desperately unhappy" after being awarded a fraction of the £1.3m he had claimed.

He claimed he would have earnt up to £150,000 a year as a top model but for the operation, which he had hoped would give his face a more angular appearance. Mr Justice Wright told the court: "There was a perceptible and significant change in Mr Russell's facial appearance as a result of the unnecessary and unjustifiable operative treatment offered to him by the defendants in this case.

"Those changes were for the worse in the sense that, as Mr Russell himself complains, the removal of subcutaneous fat had left him with a drawn and gaunt look. This look was aggravated rather than ameliorated by the subsequent replacement procedures which produce an irregular and lumpy appearance of his skin, rather than a smooth and aesthetically pleasing one." The award was made against the Harley Medical Centre, of Harley Street, central London, and the doctor who performed the surgery, Mr Alan Kingdon.

Following the judge's ruling, Mr Russell, who has represented England as an amateur golfer and is trying to make his way in professional golf, and hopes to pursue a career in television, said he was "desperately unhappy".

To his "untutored eye", Mr Justice Wright said that "Mr Russell's face appears entirely normal." "However, he explained that in order to restore the natural outlines of his face he has had, in effect, to get his weight up to something of the order of 14 and a half stone by eating liberally.

"It is plain from a casual glance that he is at the moment significantly overweight." If he were to reduce his weight, it was likely that his "thin and drawn appearance" would re-appear, said the judge.

Calculating the total amount of compensation, Mr Justice Wright said he would have earned £100,000 in total over a ten-year peroid from the modelling industry. But existing "blemishes" in Mr Russell's appearance - including his ongoing weight problem and the puffiness of his lower eyelids - had to be taken into account.

The judge added he was satisfied that Mr Russell's "main interest" was in professional golf - not modelling. "I have no doubt whatsoever that if golfing opportunities presented themselves, the modelling career would have had to take second place," he told the court.

The judge earlier remarked that the task of assessing Mr Russell's modelling success had been made much more difficult by the "seriously unsatisfactory state of the evidence". His booking sheets, records and personal diary had been lost and a portfolio of photographs had been destroyed by a "jealous girlfriend" some years ago.

"Another remarkable aspect of Mr Russell's claim is the virtual absence of any... contemporaneous documentation concerning his financial situation," the judge said. "There is nothing relating to tax or national insurance, and the bank statements disclosed do not appear to bear any relation to his alleged modelling earnings."