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Belle Gibson: court struggles to determine penalty after 'no show'

15 Juin 2017

Gibson amassed a huge social media following with her claims that she was diagnosed with brain cancer and given just months to live, but caused her cancer to miraculously disappear after taking up a healthy diet and alternative therapies.

The serial fraudster may have to cough up to $1.1 million in penalties for lying to consumers. She is accused of engaging in "unconscionable conduct" as she has profited from false claims.

It would not act as a deterrent, Mortimer said, if others saw Gibson simply not pay a penalty because she did not have the means to.

Gibson's product, The Whole Pantry, included a website, mobile phone app and recipe book of the same name.

The former said she had no proof of the businesswoman's financial position because she has not participated in court hearing, something that Mortimer has condemned.

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Consumer Affairs Victoria issued a statement in relation to Gibson's case.

The Victorian Federal Court has found Gibson broke the law in "most, but not all" allegations against her. Justice Mortimer said she "deliberately played on the genuine desire of members of the Australian community to help those less fortunate".

"I'm not aware of any case where this level of non-participation has occurred".

Mortimer also deliberated over whether ordering Gibson to make a public apology in the form of a newspaper advertisement would be appropriate, given she had no evidence of whether Gibson was actually remorseful. Her story of shunning conventional medicine and curing herself with food began to fall apart in 2015 when it was revealed she never made thousands of dollars in charity donations she promised off the back of money raised through her success.

She has been banned from making deceptive claims about her health in connection with wellbeing advice and was ordered by the Federal Court in April to pay $30,000 towards the legal costs of Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Belle Gibson: court struggles to determine penalty after 'no show'