Wellness blogger fined €270k in court for lying about having cancer
An Australian blogger has been ordered to pay out over €270,000 after lying about being seriously ill.
Belle Gibson was fined $410,000 (€272,814) by the federal court in Melbourne after she falsely claimed she had cancer and had four years to live.
Under her brand, The Whole Pantry, the wellness blogger launched a cookbook and app that went on to be bestsellers after she claimed she cured the illness through her healthy lifestyle, reports The Guardian.
She also amassed over 200,000 followers on Instagram.
As her story began to unravel in early 2015, she first said she was "wrongly" diagnosed with blood, spleen, uterus and liver cancers but maintained that she was suffering from terminal brain cancer.
She finally came clean to Australian Women’s Weekly in April of that year.
"None of it’s true," she said.
"I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, 'OK, she’s human.'"
In the case, brought against her by Consumer Affairs Victoria, Gibson did not show up to court or submit any evidence.
Federal court justice Debra Mortimer issued a number of penalties to the blogger, including $90,000 for false claims that she would make donations for the sale of her app; $150,000 for false claims that she would make donations to the Schwartz family, whose son suffered brain cancer; and $30,000 for Consumer Affairs Victoria's legal costs.
The judge said the territory of Victoria, to which the fines are to be paid, should consider donating the money to the causes that Gibson had promised them to.
"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."