Disgraced health personality Belle Gibson may have been deluded that she had cancer, so it cannot be proved that her brain cancer claims were unconscionable, a Federal Court judge says.
Justice Debra Mortimer found today that “most” allegations made against the Melbourne wellness identity by the Victorian consumer watchdog were proved – but not all.
The judge said she could not be persuaded whether or not Ms Gibson had a genuine belief that she had cancer while telling her publisher, social media followers and consumers that she did.
“Another explanation is that Ms Gibson remained under some kind of delusion that she had cancer,” Justice Mortimer wrote in her judgment.
“She may have had other psychological or psychiatric issues.
“I am not persuaded on the evidence she was acting unconscionably.”
But Ms Mortimer was satisfied Ms Gibson engaged in misleading or deceptive commerce to promote her Whole Pantry wellness app and failed to donate $400,000 from the sales of the app.
Ms Gibson did make a donation of $2790 to the Bumi Sehat Foundation in July 2015, though that was well after the falsity of her claims came to light, Ms Mortimer said.
Ms Gibson has been absent from court since the case was brought against her last year and she has not defended herself through lawyers.
Consumer Affairs Victoria wants Ms Gibson to pay a fine and publish an apology in newspapers acknowledging she lied.
Submissions on what costs and penalty the watchdog believes Ms Gibson should incur will be made later this month.