Disgraced blogger fined over fake cancer cure claim

Belle Gibson also lied about donating profits from her app to charity

A young woman who misled vulnerable people with claims she had cured cancer has been fined $410,000 (€272,000) for lying about her charitable donations.

Belle Gibson, 25, claimed she had cancer but had healed herself with natural remedies and had lied about donating to charities from the sales of her app, The Whole Pantry.

At the Federal Court in the Australian city of Melbourne, Justice Debbie Mortimer ordered Gibson to pay the fine for five breaches of Australian consumer law.

In comments reported by Melbourne's The Age newspaper, Justice Mortimer suggested that the money might be donated to those affected by Gibson’s action.

She added: "In that way, some good might still come for the vulnerable people, and the organisations supporting them, which were indirectly drawn into this unconscionable sequence of events."

The judge singled out Gibson's deceit of a family with a son suffering from brain cancer, as "particularly disgraceful."

Gibson had vowed to give the proceeds of her app sales to the family, a lie that accounted for $150,000 of her fine.

Justice Mortimer said she had "sought to use the tragic terminal illness of a young boy for her own selfish purposes."

"She sought to promote herself by comparing herself and her asserted brain cancer with Joshua's."

Gibson did not attend court, leading Justice Mortimer to note, “once again, it appears she has put her own interests before those of anyone else."

Gibson launched her cookbook and phone app in 2013, making hundreds of thousands of dollars and promising to give some of the profits to charities.

She claimed to have been diagnosed with brain cancer as a 20-year-old and given four months to live but had cured her own cancer with oxygen therapy and a gluten and refined sugar-free diet.

But her lie began to unravel when it emerged she had failed to donate the profits as promised and her friends also questioned her diagnosis.

In an interview with an Australian magazine in 2015, she admitted she had never had cancer, saying: "None of it is true."

Consumer Affairs Victoria, the state's consumer watchdog, launched legal action against her in May last year, saying that people should receive only "verified information" regarding serious matters of health.