Breast implants chief arrested as French detectives search homes

 

Paris

The founder of the French breast implant company at the centre of a global health scare has been detained by police in the first arrests since the scandal made international headlines in December.

Jean-Claude Mas, 72, was taken into custody by Marseilles police at 7am yesterday. He was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of "manslaughter and accidental injuries" caused by unapproved silicone breast implants produced by his company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP).

Mr Mas was arrested at his partner's home in southern France following a house search. Prosecutors have also confirmed the arrest of Claude Couty, one of the company's senior executives. Mr Couty was taken into custody following a house search at his home in La Seyne-sur-Mer. Under French law, both men can be held in police custody for up to 48 hours before a charge is brought against them.

PIP was once among the largest producers of silicon implants in the world. But the firm, founded by Mr Mas in 1991, has been officially bankrupt since March 2010, the same month that investigators discovered that it was using a low-grade, untested silicone gel in its implants.

Mr Mas has admitted to selling the gel, made from a mix of agricultural and industrial-grade silicone. He also claimed it was safer, but admitted to hiding the product from inspectors.

Official investigations have found that PIP's gel is more likely to rupture than legally tested implants and the French government has advised the 30,000 women who have had the implants inserted to have them removed as a precautionary measure. Mr Mas has nevertheless claimed that PIP's implants pose no health risk.

Although health authorities have stressed that there is no proven link with cancer, 20 cases of the disease among French women with PIP implants have been reported, including 16 cases of breast cancer. The death of one of these women in 2010 sparked the criminal investigation into the implants' safety. Last month, it also emerged that the US Food and Drug Administration had raised concerns about PIP more than a decade ago.

The PIP gel is seven times cheaper to produce than the authorised American gel Nusil. PIP exported 80 per cent of its cheap implants to 65 countries. An estimated 400,000 to 500,000 women worldwide have bought them, including 40,000 in Britain, though the Department of Health has not told affected women to have their implants removed.

The investigation into the safety of the implants, for which Mr Mas and Mr Couty weretaken into custody, is expected to take several years. Around 2,500 women have filed complaints against PIP.

When questioned in November about the women who have filed complaints, Mr Mas is reported to have said that "the victims are only suing to get money ... I've nothing to say to them."

Earlier this year, it emerged he had been named as a "consultant" in a business plan to restart manufacturing implants at his factory site near Toulon. Those plans have now collapsed.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference