Penguin Australia fined $30k for Belle Gibson publication

Penguin Australia fined $30k for Belle Gibson publication

A consumer affairs regulator is fining Penguin Australia A$30,000 for publishing a book by Belle Gibson, the wellness vlogger who reportedly lied about having brain cancer.

Gibson's book The Whole Pantry, which was also scheduled for publication by Michael Joseph in the UK at one point, was based on a website about her so-called recovery from brain cancer through diet and lifestyle. MJ dropped publication in April last year after The Australian newspaper raised concerns about the truth behind Gibson’s health claims.

According to Business Insider Australia, Penguin Australia has now been fined A$30,000 by Consumer Affairs Victoria, which found that the publisher failed to fact-check the cookbook.

The regulator said Penguin Australia “engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made false and misleading representations in breach of the Australian Consumer Law by publishing The Whole Pantry”.

Penguin co-operated “willingly” with the investigations and has agreed to improve its compliance, education and training program for staff, including a risk management checklist for books that make health claims. From now on, statements about natural therapies in books will feature a warning notice.

The money raised from the fine will go to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund.

Gibson, who failed to give any money to charity after promising to donate part of the book’s proceeds, is likely to be charged with “deceptive conduct”, reported Business Insider Australia.