Court told no-show conwoman Belle Gibson had no reason to think she had cancer

SEPTEMBER 13 2016 – 12:17PM

Beau Donelly

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Cancer conwoman Belle Gibson had “no reasonable basis” for believing she had terminal brain cancer, a court has heard.

Ms Gibson failed to appear before the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday morning to answer questions about her global health scam and fundraising fraud.

Consumer Affairs Victoria alleges Ms Gibson falsely claimed that she had healed herself of terminal cancer and run unlawful fundraising appeals to promote her top-rating app and cookbook, The Whole Pantry.

The action is in response to her claims of beating cancer by eschewing conventional medicine and of failing to hand over thousands of dollars raised in the name of charity in 2013 and 2014.

Disgraced author and blogger Belle Gibson appeared  on '60 Minutes' last year.
Disgraced author and blogger Belle Gibson appeared on ’60 Minutes’ last year. Photo: Supplied

Barrister Catherine Button, for Consumer Affairs, on Tuesday said Ms Gibson had “no reasonable basis” for believing she had brain cancer.

The court heard that Ms Gibson’s medical records from The Alfred hospital, after she was supposedly diagnosed by an alternative practitioner, do not mention the terminal disease.

Ms Button said there was also “no evidence” Ms Gibson had suffered a stroke, as she had claimed during her rise to fame, or that any suggestion she had been treated for cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy was true.

Penguin has supplied the court with raw footage of a recorded interview with Ms Gibson from a media training session it conducted with her ahead of the release of her book in October 2014.

Belle Gibson failed to appear at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Belle Gibson failed to appear at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday. Photo: Erin Jonasson

Ms Button told the court there was a “fairly stark contrast” between the claims Ms Gibson made about her fundraising endeavours and what was actually given to charity.

The consumer watchdog will use Ms Gibson’s medical records, last year’s 60 Minutes interview, correspondence from tech giant Apple, and various social media posts form The Whole Pantry accounts as part of its evidence against her.

Consumer Affairs launched an investigation into Ms Gibson’s fundraising activities after Fairfax Media revealed she had stolen thousands of dollars raised through charity fundraisers and lied about giving $300,000 from her business profits to charity.

The disgraced wellness blogger has refused to appear at a case management hearing or file a defence in the civil case brought against her earlier this year.

But Consumer Affairs is not backing down from pursuing Ms Gibson and her company, Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd, which is in liquidation.

The Whole Pantry founder faces penalties of up to $1.1 million.

Ms Gibson rose to prominence in 2013 with the launch of The Whole Pantry app. She partnered with tech giant Apple and, with Penguin, published a book containing dozens of false claims.

Penguin has since been ordered to pay $30,000 over its role in the scandal and will be forced to include “prominent warning” notices on all future books containing claims about natural therapies to explain they are not evidence-based.


Source : The Age

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