A judge has found that wellness blogger Belle Gibson, of Australia, may have been under “some kind of delusion” that she was suffering from brain cancer. Despite that ruling, the judge found her guilty of deceptive and misleading conduct.
Gibson had created a social media empire. She had released an app and a cookbook and made hundreds of thousands of dollars as a wellness blogger. Gibson claimed that she had cured her brain cancer with a combination of proper nutrition and alternative therapies, reports ABC News.
After Gibson made this revelation it was revealed that she never had brain cancer. An investigation was launched by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) just over two years ago, and in June of last year, it brought a civil case against her and her company Inkerman Road Nominees. Her company is now in liquidation.
Debra Mortimer, a federal court justice, has upheld most of the CAV’s allegations. She found the 25-year-old did engage in deceptive and misleading conduct. Judge Mortimer added that she was not persuaded by the evidence the CAV had that Belle Gibson was acting “unconsciously.” She stated that it was possible that Gibson was delusional when she claimed to have brain cancer after releasing her book.
In her published ruling, Judge Mortimer said that Gibson may have been dealing with psychological and psychiatric issues.
Belle Gibson could be fined up to $220,000 and her company could see fines up to $1.1 million. Gibson was not in court to hear the ruling. She did not attend any of the previous hearings, reports BBC.
Justice Mortimer added that Ms. Gibson also made false claims about donating large amounts of money to charities. Reportedly from her app and The Whole Pantry cookbook, Gibson made $420,000.
The judge ruled that the content of Belle’s statements led her followers and members of the community to believe that she was suffering from terminal brain cancer when that was never the case. The judge believed that she built her story by saying that she moved away from conventional treatment and turned to self-healing using healthy nutrition and other alternative remedies, reports the South China Morning Post.
The judge found that there was no evidence that the wellness blogger had received any type of convention cancer treatments.
In 2016, the CAV acted against Penguin, the publisher of Belle Gibson’s book, which paid her for the cookbook when it was released in October of 2014. The action was dropped a few months later, but the publisher was fined $30,000 because it promoted and sold a book that made false and misleading representations.
By Tammy Marie Rose
Photo Courtesy Facebook