Disgraced wellness author Belle Gibson fined £240k

Disgraced wellness author Belle Gibson fined £240k

Wellness blogger Belle Gibson, who lied about having cancer, has been ordered to repay $410,000 (£240,055) to the state of Victoria in Australia, it has been reported.

The federal court in Melbourne had been “struggling to decide on an appropriate penalty” for the disgraced social media star, according to the Guardian, after she sold thousands of copies of her cookbook and wellness app, based on a wholly false claims she had cured “numerous cancers” through a healthy lifestyle.

The 25-year-old has allegedly failed to show up to court since proceedings have been brought against her by Consumer Affairs Victoria and has also not responded to evidence before the court or submitted her own.

Federal court justice Debra Mortimer had reportedly said Gibson could face a maximum penalty of $1.1m for contravening five consumer laws but then said there was “no point in issuing a significant fine” if Gibson was unable to pay.

Gibson’s product, The Whole Pantry, included a website, an app and recipe book of the same name, which was published in Australia. In 2015 it was revealed that she had donated to charity as she had promised and that she had lied about having had cancer.

Michael Joseph pulled the book in March 2015, a month before it was due to hit the shelves in the UK. Penguin Random House UK said at the time that it was “disappointed to have not received sufficient explanation or evidence from Ms Gibson in response to recent allegations”.

In May 2015 it was revealed that a consumer affairs regulator was fining Penguin Australia A$30,000 for publishing the book. Penguin co-operated “willingly” with the investigations and agreed to improve its compliance, education and training program for staff, including a risk management checklist for books that make health claims. 

Gibson has been ordered to pay pay a penalty of $90,000 for her false claims that she would make donations for the sale of her app, $90,000 for false claims her company would make charity donations as well as $50,000 for false claims that following her app launch she would donate to charity and $150,000 for false claims that she would make donations to the Schwartz family, whose son suffered brain cancer. She must also pay $30,000 for false claims that she would donate to charity off the back of a Mother’s Day event.

PRH UK has been contacted for a comment.