Belle Gibson: Wellness blogger who claimed to have cancer will be prosecuted by consumer watchdog
Gibson claimed she cured cancer with healthy food and alternative therapies
An Australian blogger who claimed to have survived terminal brain cancer with diet and lifestyle changes is facing legal action for “misleading and deceptive conduct”.
Belle Gibson launched an app and published a book off the back of her false claim that she had cured her cancer with a gluten and sugar-free diet and alternative therapies, as opposed to conventional medicine, inspiring thousands of people around the world. She also claimed she had cancer of the blood, spleen, uterus and liver.
But Gibson, a mother of one, later admitted her claims about having terminal cancer were untrue, and it became apparent that funds from sales that she had pledged to donate to charity had allegedly not been distributed.
The Consumer Affairs Victoria watchdog is now looking to prosecute Gibson for allegedly breaking consumer laws. The watchdog said in a statement: “The alleged contraventions relate to false claims by Ms Gibson and her company concerning her diagnosis with terminal brain cancer, her rejection of conventional cancer treatments in favour of natural remedies, and the donation of proceeds to various charities."
Simon Cohen, the director of CAV, said their action is an important step in ensuring “consumers receive only verified information and are not deceived, particularly where serious matters of health and medical treatment are concerned”.
In an interview with 60 Minutes after her cancer diagnosis was first revealed to be untrue, Gibson stoked public anger by showing little remorse throughout.
She said she was wrongly diagnosed by a German alternative medical practitioner in 2009 and believed she had cancer until 2011 when a scan showed she was completely healthy.
She also claimed that finding out that she did not have cancer was “traumatising” for her.
“Once I received the definite, ‘No, you do not have cancer,’ that was something I had to come to terms with and it was really traumatising and I was feeling a huge amount of grief.”
She insisted she had planned to tell her followers but the media beat her to it.
Her book was published by Penguin, who later admitted the claims within her book, The Whole Pantry, had not been verified. Penguin has said it will donate $30,000 to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund.
Independent News Service