This article originally appeared on VICE Australia/New Zealand
Belle Gibson, best known for fake-curing herself of fake brain cancer with clean eating, is back in the news – this time for failing to appear in court in Melbourne.
The disgraced wellness blogger is being pursued by Consumer Affairs Victoria over allegations she made false claims to promote her Whole Pantry app, "concerning her diagnosis with terminal brain cancer, her rejection of conventional cancer treatments in favour of natural remedies, and the donation of proceeds to various charities."
This is the second time Gibson has failed to appear in court to face the allegations. She's submitted no defence to the Federal Court, and appears to have no legal representation.
The Whole Pantry cookbook's publisher Penguin Australia Pty Ltd has already agreed to donate £15,520 ($30,000 AUD) to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund, as restitution for not fact-checking Gibson's claims that she suffered from an inoperable brain tumour, three heart operations, two cardiac arrests, a stroke, and died twice on the operating table—all in 2009.
Gibson first launched the Whole Pantry as an app in 2013, before releasing her book late in October 2014, which included claims that her brain cancer had been stable for two years. It's estimated Gibson amassed more than about £517,400 ($1 million AUD) from both ventures before doubts surfaced in March 2015 around the validity of her inspirational story.
In The Whole Pantry, Gibson claimed she was diagnosed with "malignant brain cancer" in June 2009 and given just "six weeks" to live "four months tops." She went on to assert that after two months of chemotherapy and radiation she gave up on conventional treatment and set out on "a quest to heal myself naturally... through nutrition, patience, determination and love" under the guidance of a doctor named "Mark Johns."
In an April 2015 interview with the Australian Women's Weekly, Gibson admitted that "no. None of it's true." Recounting the meeting, AWW's Clair Weaver explained that Gibson "is passionate about avoiding gluten, dairy and coffee, but doesn't really understand how cancer works."
A Fairfax investigation also revealed that Gibson's claims that about £155,200 ($300,000 AUD) from sales of her app were donated to maternal health, cancer research, schools in Africa, and Australian organisations including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and One Girl, weren't true.
Justice Debra Mortimer has given Gibson one more chance to file a defence before 4PM on the 10th of July.