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Consumer Affairs Victoria v Gibson
The Federal Court has handed down its decision on penalties against Belle Gibson.
Ms Gibson rose to fame (and infamy) surrounding promotions of her book and mobile app titled The Whole Pantry, wherein she claimed to have beaten cancer through diet and alternative therapies after rejecting conventional cancer treatment.
The App and Book, published in August 2013 and November 2014 respectively, netted Gibson and her related company estimated sales of over $1 million, along with breakfast TV slots, current affairs coverage, magazine articles, social media stardom and charity fundraisers.
However, the claims turned out to be too good to be true.
After cracks began to appear in Gibson’s cancer story, and allegations surfaced that little, if anything, from the charity promotions, had actually been donated, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) commenced proceedings against Ms Gibson and her company for misleading and deceptive conduct.
In March 2017, Gibson and her related company (now in liquidation) were found to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach the Australian Consumer Law and its counterpart Victorian legislation.
It was held that Gibson and her company had made false or misleading representations in relation to claims about Gibson having cancer and the treatments she underwent, along with multiple false or misleading representations that certain sales proceeds would be donated to various charities.
The Court found that, despite the company operating the social media accounts and holding the book publishing contracts with Penguin, Ms Gibson was also liable as the ‘controlling mind’ behind the operation.
In the follow-up judgment, Mortimer J ordered Gibson to pay penalties totalling $410,000 associated with the Australian Consumer Law breaches for ...