Under the advertising rules, it is the responsibility of advertisers to ensure they hold appropriate evidence to back up claims made in their ads. Sometimes that evidence is of a highly technical or specialised nature, particularly in fields such as health or engineering. 

When the ASA or CAP is asked to assess that evidence, they may, if necessary, appoint an independent expert to give an impartial and confidential view on whether it supports the claim that is being made. We always aim to find the most appropriate expert to review that evidence, either from the group of experts we use regularly or by seeking out someone new with the relevant expertise. 

As well as a general pool of experts, we also have a Panel of experts in the field of Dermatology. The Panel works with Clearcast, Radiocentre and the ASA. Their role is to give a view on whether evidence supports particular claims, and this can be done both before and after a ruling.

Our experts - general

The following experts have all provided recent advice to either the ASA or CAP on a range of different issues. Depending on the claims made we will always seek to find the most relevant expert, and the list will be updated accordingly. Not every expert we use appears on the list.
  • Mark English

    Mark English

    Health therapies expert

    Since leaving academia, Mark has spent the last 12 years working as a medical writer and healthcare analyst.

    During this time he has worked for Bazian Ltd., in the UK as a health research reviewer and analyst writing systematic reviews and critiquing scientific papers for BMJ Clinical Evidence, BMJ Evidence-based Mental Health, Cancer Treatment Reviews, and for the National Electronic Library for Health in the UK.

    Mark has a PhD in cancer research from the University of Birmingham, UK, and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, Dallas, USA. After completing his PhD, Mark worked on novel treatments for acute myeloid leukemia as a postdoctoral research fellow also at the University of Birmingham.

  • Peter Croft

    Peter Croft

    Musculoskeletal pain expert

    Peter Croft is Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology at Keele University and was formerly Director of the Arthritis Research UK Primary Centre at that University.

    His interests are in long-term studies of chronic pain, notably the cause and prognosis and management of common syndromes of musculoskeletal pain such as back pain and osteoarthritis.

  • Dr Adam Fox

    Dr Adam Fox

    Allergies expert

    Having completed specialist training in Paediatric Allergy in 2006, Adam is now a consultant and joint clinical lead of Allergy at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, the UK’s largest specialist allergy service.

    Adam read Medicine and Neuroscience at Cambridge University before completing his clinical training at University College, London.

    Adam chaired the Department of Health commissioned RCPCH National Care Pathway for Food Allergy in Childhood and was part of the National Institute of Healthcare and Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guideline development group for Assessment and Diagnosis of Food Allergy in Children and continues as an Expert Advisor to NICE. He is secretary of the British Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology and well as a trustee and Chair of the Advisory Board of Allergy UK.

    Adam’s research interests relate to numerous aspects of allergy, especially food allergy and immunotherapy. He is an honorary Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Allergy at King’s College London and his doctoral thesis on Peanut Allergy was awarded the Raymond Horton-Smith prize by Cambridge University.

    Adam also has an interest in medical education and he is director of the King’s College London Allergy Academy. His clinical role involves the management of children with multiple allergic disease including food allergy, asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis as well as children with difficult eczema where food allergy plays a role.

  • Stanley Batchelor

    Stanley Batchelor

    Medical physics expert, including Lasers and Radiation

    Head of Radiation and Laser Safety at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust. MSc Radiation Physics, 1979, Post Graduate Teaching Certificate 1976, BSc First Class Honours, Physics, 1975.

    Stanley’s career in Medical Physics spans 35 years. He has been active in Nuclear Medicine and Radiation/Laser Protection and Radiology Physics and has spent 26 years at a prestigious large London Teaching Hospital as Head of Radiation and Laser Safety.

    He was the National Laser/Radiation Adviser to the National Care Standards Commission and then Healthcare Commission (which more recently became the Care Quality Commission).

    He is Head of Radiation and Laser Safety at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust hospital, leading a team of 14 medical physicists and technologists to provide radiology physics, radiation and laser protection arrangements to the hospital and many other organisations.

    Stanley is also examiner and teacher for the MSc in Nuclear Medicine at Kings College, London and referee for a number of peer-reviewed journals.

  • Dr Joanne Fallowfield

    Dr Joanne Fallowfield

    Applied physiology expert

    Head of Applied Physiology, Environmental Medicine and Sciences Division, Institute of Naval Medicine, Ministry of Defence.

    Dr Fallowfield completed her PhD in nutrition and endurance exercise at Loughborough University, before lecturing in Exercise Physiology, Muscle Biochemistry and Exercise Nutrition in Higher Education for fourteen years. She joined the Institute of Naval Medicine in 2006, and sits on Surgeon General’s Defence Food and Nutrition Working Group, Defence Steroids and Supplements Working Group, Clinical Nutrition Working Group, and the Training Exercise Medical Advisory Group. She managed Surgeon General’s Bone Health Project (2006-12), and is a Principal Investigator for Surgeon General’s Armed Forces Feeding Project and Surgeon General’s Casualty Nutrition Study. She was recently appointed as a Senior Visiting Research Fellow to the University of Surrey. She is a member of the Royal Navy Scientific Advisory Committee.

    Areas of current research activity are in military nutrition and dietetics, thermal physiology, military physical selection, and occupational fitness and health.

  • Chris Sanders

    Chris Sanders

    Industrial engineering and insulation expert

    Director of the Centre for Research on Indoor Climate and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University. BSc (Physics), MSc (Meteorology).

    Chris worked for the Building Research Establishment in Scotland for 29 years, initially on the risk of condensation and mould in houses and roofs and the assessment of the effects of moulds and mites on health. He carried out the analysis of the condensation and mould and energy data in the last four English House Condition Surveys.

    He has produced guidance documents giving advice on avoiding thermal bridging in housing and other buildings and carried out the thermal analysis of the Robust Details that were produced in association with Approved Document L1 of the English Building Regulations. He is Convenor of the CEN and ISO Working Groups developing European and International Standards on moisture and climatic data and chairman of the BSI committee updating BS5250, the code of practice for condensation in buildings. He has been actively involved with the UKCIP programme assessing the likely climate change impacts on buildings

    Since joining Glasgow Caledonian University in 2003, Chris has been Director of the Centre for Research on Indoor Climate and Health, a multidisciplinary team which carries out research and consultancy work in all aspects of energy use, moisture problems and the internal environment of houses. The Centre has considerable experience in dealing with the energy and moisture problems in historic and heritage buildings.

    Research/Subject interests: Indoor air quality, energy use in buildings, insulation performance, moisture problems, climate change impacts on buildings, standardisation.

  • David Boniface

    David Boniface

    Statistical methods, information and survey data expert

    David is the author of the statistics book “Experiment Design and Statistical Methods for Behavioural and Social Research”.

    He has presented papers at numerous conferences in the UK and abroad including at the Royal Statistical Society and at the Society for Social Medicine. He is joint author of over 40 published scientific articles.

    David graduated in Mathematics at University of Edinburgh, Statistics at University of London (LSE), and Psychology from the University of London, (IoE) and has Chartered Statistician status of the Royal Statistical Society.

    He has worked in medical statistics in academic research roles for 30 years and is currently appointed as honorary research associate at University College, London. Subsequently he has engaged in statistical consultancy work through the Royal Statistical Society working for a wide range of clients on statistical issues.

  • Dr Stephen Peake

    Dr Stephen Peake

    Environmental claims expert, inc carbon offsetting and energy efficiency

    Professor of Climate Change and Energy at the Open University. BSc (Sussex: Physics), PhD (Cambridge: Policy Sciences).

    Stephen is a fellow in Management Science at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and Senior Associate of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

    From 1995-2000, Stephen served as an international civil servant at the International Energy Agency at the OECD in Paris and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), based in Bonn, Germany. His current teaching, research and professional practice include sustainable energy systems, climate change and sustainability leadership, working with a broad range of public, private and third sector organisations.

Our dermatology experts

This panel of experts advises the ASA, Clearcast and Radiocentre. It provides advice on the adequacy of evidence supporting claims in ads both before an ad appears and afterwards if the claims are challenged. 

The panel is intended to:
  • Address some areas of disagreement between experts advising the different bodies,  which have previously resulted in some ads being found to be misleading by the ASA, when they had been assessed and accepted by the clearance bodies and their own experts
  • Reduce disagreement between experts over acceptable standards of evidence.
  • Increase certainty for advertisers.
  • Increase consumer confidence in advertising claims in the beauty sector.
  • Provide consistency between experts through establishing protocols on how scientific evidence for advertising claims should be assessed, with new guidance on test protocols for certain claims in cosmetic advertising, see link below
Test protocols for cosmetic ads.pdf

Although the Panel is intended to increase consistency, its advice does not prevent the ASA from looking into complaints it receives about ads and removing claims that it finds have broken the rules.
  • Dr Susan Mayou

    Dr Susan Mayou

    Dermatology expert

    Dr. Mayou is a Consultant Dermatologist with special interest in paediatric and cosmetic dermatology. She ran the paediatric dermatology clinic at the Chelsea and Westminster and the paediatric and adult clinic at Queen Mary’s Roehampton for 15 years and started the Cadogan Clinic in Chelsea with her plastic surgeon husband three years ago.

    BSc FRCP graduated from St Thomas’ Hospital in 1977. She also has a 1st class Honours degree in Anatomy.

    She is cofounder and secretary of the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group, an Honorary Lecturer at Imperial College London, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Member of the British Association of Dermatology and British Association of Paediatric Dermatology and spokesperson for and a Trustee of, the British Skin Foundation.

    In clinical practice she sees children with atopic eczema, teenagers with acne and adults for mole checks and dermoscopic digital monitoring, skin cancer and performs non-invasive cosmetic procedures.

  • Prof. Mark Birch-Machin

    Prof. Mark Birch-Machin

    Dermatology expert

    Mark Birch-Machin, Ph.D., is Professor of Molecular Dermatology at the Newcastle University Institute of Cellular Medicine.

    Prof. Birch-Machin pursued his Post-Doctoral career at the University of Oregon (USA), INSERM Paris, University of Toronto as well as Clinical Neuroscience and Biochemistry, Newcastle University (1986-1995) where he held several academic positions in the Department of Dermatology (1996-current).  During this time, he was elected Treasurer of the British Society of Investigative Dermatology (BSID) and co-editor of Experimental Dermatology.  He advanced to the position of Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University in August 2005.

    Prof. Birch-Machin’s research group focuses on the response of human skin to ultraviolet radiation particularly within the context of skin ageing and cancer.  He also has particular interest in understanding the role of mitochondrial DNA in the treatment of psoriasis, in UV-induced oxidative stress, cancer and the relationship between oxidative stress, nutritional status and skin aging as well as the science and use of sunscreens.  He has received research funding from Cancer Research UK, British Skin Foundation, BBSRC, MRC, EPSRC, Wellcome Trust, NESRF and the Royal Society.  He has published more than 100 refereed scientific journals and books. In addition, he is also a co-inventor on multiple patents arising from the commercialization of parts of this research, including the invention of a product that sold in over a 1,000 stores in Canada as part of a spin out company which Mark co-founded.  In 2010, Mark was awarded the Newcastle University Spirit of Entrepreneurship award.  He has also founded a second company in August 2011 (Powerhouse Biologics Ltd) that looks at personalized nutrition. Mark was the founder and Programme Director of the Master of Research in Medical and Molecular Biosciences which is the flagship postgraduate programme in the Faculty of Medical Sciences. 

    Prof. Birch-Machin has been an internationally and nationally invited keynote speaker at numerous prestigious conferences and symposia.  He has been Chair and a member) of several international  and national Scientific/Biomedical Advisory Boards and is a member of the grants awarding committee for the British Skin Foundation as well as the Editorial board for Experimental Dermatology.

    Prof. Birch-Machin is regularly a National Press Spokesperson on ‘Sunburnt DNA,’ DNA damage, skin ageing and skin cancer risk related to his role on Cancer Research UK’s Sun Smart Advisory Board and with the British Skin Foundation press office.  His research and quotes on sun awareness have appeared on multiple European and American TV segments (including BBC, ITN, Sky, Discovery), more than 100 radio programs, online columns, over 130 national and local UK newspapers and over 100 popular magazine articles.

  • Dr Robin Dover

    Dr Robin Dover

    Dermatology expert

    Dr Dover is currently an independent expert and has acted as a reviewer for a number of journals including the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, British Journal of Dermatology and Journal of Cell Science.

    Dr Dover gained his PhD at the Cancer Research Campaign’s Paterson laboratory in Manchester, where he studied growth, differentiation and radiation response in cultured skin.

    He continued his research into the growth and differentiation of skin and hair, first at the University of Iowa USA, then at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London and Dermatology Department at the University of Oxford. He then moved to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, (now Cancer Research UK).

    His interests are in stem cell biology, growth control in the skin, study of cell proliferation in skin and hair and in vitro models of skin. Using organotypic models of skin he has performed grafts onto burns and other plastic surgery cases. Sex-mismatched grafts showed survival of some grafted cells at 2.5 years post grafting.

    He has demonstrated proliferative heterogeneity in cultured cells, matching that of skin in vivo and consistent with stem cell models of skin organisation. He has developed methodologies for measuring proliferative activity and the rate of differentiation of cultured cells allowing investigations of the mode of action of various agents on skin growth.

  • Dr Jack Ferguson

    Dr Jack Ferguson

    Dermatology expert

    Dr Jack Ferguson took employment in the cosmetics industry (Beecham Products, Leatherhead) to develop and test skin and sun care products and other cosmetics, and has now spent a total of 25 years in the industry.

    Dr Ferguson graduated from Strathclyde University, Glasgow with Bsc (Hons) in Biology with chemistry and a PhD in Bioengineering.

    Fifteen of those years were with The Boots Company in Nottingham in cosmetic development laboratories. This was followed by five years as R&D Director for Oriflame International in Dublin, Ireland.

    Dr Ferguson established his own independent consulting and product development company (Skinnovation Ltd) in October 2000. 

    Dr Ferguson is a specialist in sun product development and testing, a field, which he has become internationally known. He has been active in industry committees defining sun product test methods. During his period at Boots, Dr Ferguson was jointly responsible for the development and introduction of the Boots UVA Star Rating System for sun products, which is used throughout UK and Ireland.

    Jack has presented verbal and written papers on a number of topics in cosmetic science including sun protection, and has been a consultant on cosmetic product claims since May 2001 to Clearcast (formerly BACC).

    Jack was a trustee and Hon Treasurer to FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experimentation) charity between January 2004 and November 2009.

  • Dr Chris Gummer

    Dr Chris Gummer

    Dermatology expert

    After 21 years as a senior technologist with Procter & Gamble Research & Development, Chris is now working for his own consultancy (Cider Solutions).

    He has extensive experience in copy claim development and claim substantiation with some of the world’s leading consumer brands.  His experience ranges from fundamental research, hands-on development of data and methods, through to copy development and product credentialing.  Importantly, he has extensive experience in working with the Clearcast (formerly BACC) and the ASA from the position of an advertiser. He is a widely published and quoted author.

All parties (ASA, Clearcast and Radiocentre) seek to use this resource without bias as far as possible. However, we recognise that there are operational reasons that may govern the choice of an expert in some circumstances. 

Advertisers and their agencies should not approach the panel directly for any queries they may have. These should continue to be channelled through the appropriate organisation.

Steps in the process

  1. Pre-Clearance - Expert assesses evidence submission and advises accordingly. In the event that they have queries about a specific issue that needs further consideration by the expert panel, an expert can refer questions initially to another expert or, in the event of disagreement or need for further clarity, to the whole Panel.
  2. Complaint assessment – ASA Executive assesses complaint and where necessary, will ask clearance body for response. For the initial consideration of a complaint, the ASA will always ask the clearance body to get confirmation from the expert who considered the initial submission that they are still content with the evidence, in light of the complaint. It is worth noting that, whilst the ASA will always seek to resolve any issues of evidence directly, using the expert who has pre-cleared evidence for a submission, there may be possible legal difficulties in using the same expert for an investigation. It might call into question the ASA’s independence and exercise of its own judgement if it is thought to rely on an expert who had already committed themselves to a view for a clearance body, which they might be viewed as reluctant to change. 
  3. Further investigation – If the ASA feels that there is still an issue to be resolved on the point of complaint, then they will use another expert from the panel to help resolve that issue. Examples of potential issues might include:

    (a) A complaint throws new light on the data and the advice already received by the clearance body is not relevant or does not cover this point,
    (b) The initial expert’s advice leaves significant issues unanswered, and
    (c) The claims made in the ad are considered by the ASA to be “significant developments in science” (or “breakthrough” claims), but were considered to be more established claims by the clearance body.
  4. Disagreement protocols – If there is no consensus between the experts during the course of the investigation, and one or other feel strongly that they disagree with the original assessment, then there is an opportunity to put the specific issue to the panel for a consensus opinion. Please note that whilst this opinion will help inform the decision-making process of the ASA Council, on all matters, including an assessment of how the claim is likely to be interpreted by the consumer, the ASA Council is the final arbiter. 
  5. Panel operation including consensus voting – Issues to be put to the full panel would normally be specific and precise in nature, and would hopefully fall on specific points that can be covered and decided quickly via the use of e-mail. We would not normally expect the panel to consider full submissions of evidence. However, it is recognised that it may be necessary to consider such submissions, in order to gain consensus on a specific point. Decisions will be decided by a majority vote of the panel.
  6. Expert representation externally – The panel will operate internally to the three organisations with no recourse for external organisations to make representations directly to the panel.