A social media influencer who posted “totally false” allegations online about a leading cosmetic surgeon after undergoing Brazilian butt lift surgery has been ordered to pay him £40,000 after he won a High Court libel fight.
Paulina Sobierajska was sued by Dr Alexander Amir Aslani, who works at a clinic in Marbella, Spain, and has performed more than 14,000 operations, after she posted derogatory comments about him on her ‘thegiirlyouhate’ Instagram profile and realself.com, a plastic surgery review website.
She falsely claimed he engaged in “gaslighting and manipulation” and that he “botched” her body and left her “disfigured” in posts to her 52,800 followers on Instagram – which is regularly used by people to research cosmetic surgery.
The surgeon – a leading expert in the procedure, which augments the buttocks – complained about four posts, including one which read “to the girls who are following me because they want to go to my previous surgeon… DON’T DO IT”.
Another post, on a clinical review Instagram profile, included a video that was viewed at least 470 times.
He had previously performed three surgeries on Ms Sobierajska, who travelled from her then-home in the UK to undergo the operations, with her paying for the first two and the third being done for free as a “gesture of goodwill”.
Before the posts, she had never previously complained to Dr Aslani, or expressed dissatisfaction with the surgeries, and had in fact posted positively about him.
In a ruling today, Mr Justice Saini said the meaning of the posts conveyed that the surgeon had “carried out grossly negligent treatment which other surgeons refuse to remedy and that it is likely he will seriously injure or even kill his patients”.
He also said the “substantial sum” was intended to reflect the “total falsity” of Ms Sobierajska’s allegations against him.
The judge added: “As to his reputation, the meaning of the publications include that he has exaggerated his skillset, that he misrepresents the results of his operations on social media, that he dishonestly purports to be a leader in the field and that he carries out his business fraudulently.
“With reference to the claimant’s personality, the ordinary meanings are that he ‘gaslighted’, manipulated and bribed female patients.
“In my judgment, the allegations clearly have the tendency to deter any reasonable or prudent potential patients to avoid engaging the claimant to provide surgery, and to make others in the medical profession or beyond form an adverse view of the claimant.
“No person would use a plastic surgeon accused of incompetence that will cause disfigurement or pain and who is said to be unable or unprepared to put right what had been ‘botched’.”
The judge also said it could be inferred that the posts had been made from the UK, where around 70% of the doctor’s 1,200 patients a year are from, and that they caused a decrease in the number of bookings he received.
He added: “The claimant names six people who did not proceed with surgery, with a contributing factor being the defendant’s campaign against the claimant.
“Those undergoing operations of the kind the claimant carries out may be more vulnerable about their bodies and likely to be influenced not to use the claimant’s services due to the publications.
“The publications have understandably caused the claimant hurt and distress.”