A court has awarded $82,500 in damages to the owners of a cosmetic surgery clinic in what is thought to be Australia’s first judgment involving defamation in an Instagram story.

In the Brisbane District Court, Judge Reid found former Beautyfull Cosmetic Medicine Clinic employee Clare Hayes defamed the clinic’s owners in a story she posted to Instagram.

An Instagram story is a post on the social network which is generally only visible for 24 hours.

Court awards defamation damages over cosmetic surgery Instagram story

The case is believed to be the first judgment finding defamation in Australia from an Instagram story.

“A feature of Instagram, and other social media platforms, is that they are often infected by personal grievances aired in an obnoxious manner and are often not a reliable source of information,” Judge Reid found.

The dispute arose after a photograph was posted on Beautyfull’s Instagram account around March last year of the clinic’s founder Margaret Scruton in her uniform at work with the caption “Dr Margaret serving during COVID-19” and a picture of a trophy.

Beautyfull’s account has over 20,000 followers and is used by Beautyfull to promote the clinic’s cosmetic injectables and skin treatments with posts such as this one featuring founder “Dr Margaret, Nurse Kate & Nurse Kayleigh”:

Shortly after the clinic’s post of Dr Scruton in her uniform went up, Ms Hayes, who had 1844 followers on Instagram, used the photograph in an Instagram story post on her own account.

“Before you watch my story I am not naming and shaming but when I see a company upload a FAKE photo that a medical practitioner is going to work on the frontline during the Covid-19 crisis, it’s disgusting and disrespectful to the people who are actually putting their lives at risk to save others,” Ms Hayes posted.


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