Belle Gibson, the Australian wellness blogger and author, who claimed to have cured her cancer through natural remedies before confessing that she lied about the diagnosis, is facing criminal charges. Consumer Affairs Victoria, a wing under the Australian department of justice, said after an in-depth investigation, that it is getting ready to take her to Federal Court for allegedly violating consumer laws.
The blogger built an entire social media empire, authored a cook book and launched an app (The Whole Pantry) on alleged false claims that she used Ayurvedic medicine, oxygen therapy and a gluten and refined sugar-free diet to cure her cancer.
In an interview last year to an Australian women's daily, she admitted that the cancer claims were not true. She justified her actions by saying: "I don't want forgiveness. I just think speaking out was the responsible thing. Above anything, I would like people to say 'OK, she's human'."
There were also allegations of promised donations to charities by the company The Whole Pantry that had not been paid.
Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said: "All of those claims made by her when she suffered the illness, her therapies in respect of that illness and what she did with her own alternative remedies are false and misleading and deceptive. We will be seeking financial penalties also in terms of injunctions to ensure that that conduct is not undertaken again."
The minister said the publisher, Penguin Australia, has agreed to pay a penalty of $30,000 (£15,524) to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund. They also stopped publishing her book The Whole Pantry recipe book last year after her admission.