An Australian wellness blogger who falsely claimed to have cancer has been fined A$410,000 (£240,000, $322,000) for misleading her readers. Belle Gibson, 25, gained fame in Australia after she claimed to have beaten brain cancer using natural remedies and nutrition.
She launched a successful app and cookbook, but later admitted the diagnosis was made up.Ms Gibson was found guilty of five breaches of consumer law in March.
A judge at the time said Ms Gibson may have “genuinely” believed what she was saying, and might have suffered from “delusions” about her health. She did not attend the Federal Court of Australia in Melbourne on Thursday to hear the penalty handed down. Ms Gibson built a social media empire off claims she had cured her cancer with Ayurvedic medicine, oxygen therapy and a gluten and refined sugar-free diet. “Her ‘pitch’ overwhelmingly used groups likely to evoke sympathy because of their vulnerabilities – young girls, asylum seekers, sick children,” Justice Debbie Mortimer said in March. Ms Gibson’s app and cookbook, both called The Whole Pantry, made A$420,000, and she had promised to deliver a share of the profits to several charities. But the money allegedly never reached the charities and cracks began to appear in Ms Gibson’s story, leading her to admit her claims were untrue.