Belle Gibson, a bestselling wellness author whose The Whole Pantry was published by Penguin Random House, has been accused of faking cancer.
Gibson was “misdiagnosed” with a number of “new cancers” in 2014, she told the Australian. ABC.net.au verified that claim from the subscription-only publication, and added that the author felt “confused, bordering on humiliated” from the fallout.
“It’s hard to admit that you’re wrong,” she said.
The story might have stopped there except that further digging revealed that many of the charities Belle Gibson claimed she had donated to never received any money.
According to the author, she had given the U.S. equivalent of $227,000 to the charities, but then later backtracked and said “issues with cash flow versus growth” had caused her to never make the donations.
Gibson is also an app developer, and her recipe app, which has procured more than 300,000 paid downloads at $3.79 each was supposed to allocate around 25 percent of its profits to charity.
Doing the math, the app would have earned around $1,137,000. Assuming the normal 70-30 percent split in favor of the developer, Belle could have received as much as $795,900 from that alone.
Opposing Views notes that Penguin Random House admitted to “never verifying” whether Belle Gibson’s story was true before publishing her work.
Furthermore, there has been some question as to her true age and she has not named the German medical team allegedly responsible for her misdiagnosis.
“I’m still going through understanding what’s happening to my body,” she said.
Over the weekend, Gibson took to Facebook to lash out at her critics, stating, “it says more about you, and your priorities than me or the story you’ll get paid to tell.” She felt her The Whole Pantry work “did change hundreds of thousands for the better” and chastised publications that were “knowingly contributing to the blatant attacking and bullying of myself and my family,” though to date, she hasn’t offered answers to the accusations.
Still, she said, an “open letter” was on the way to address campaigns such as the Facebook group “Belle Gibson Uncovered,” which routinely posts pictures and comments from ex-fans of Gibson’s that claim to feel betrayed as a result of the ongoing accusations.
While this particular case is in Australia, how do you think your country should handle people who make false personal claims to garner sales?
Should publishers verify claims like those of the author before publishing, and if it’s proven that she did manufacture the diagnoses, should Belle Gibson be sent to jail? Sound off in the comments section.