“I don’t think she’s going to be out there in the marketplace selling her book, do you?” – Magistrate
Belle Gibson was taken to court by Consumer Affairs Victoria on Thursday after she failed to answer questions put to her about her alleged cancer fraud.
Consumer Affairs began their investigation of Belle Gibson in March when it became apparent that she had not passed on promised money to charity and had even withheld money raised from charity events held over two successive Friday evenings in St Kilda.
As a part of the investigation, Consumer Affairs asked Belle Gibson to provide answers to 27 questions relating to the sales of her book and apps as well as the missing charity money. Despite extensions of time given to Belle Gibson, she has failed to provide answers.
In the final hour before the last deadline to provide answers expired she requested even more time from Consumer Affairs.
Belle Gibson requested more time on the basis that her lawyer was away. However Consumer Affairs received notice from her lawyer, Mills Oakley, stating that he no longer acted for her.
Unable to get answers from Belle Gibson, Consumer Affairs Victoria took her to court to seek an order compelling her to answer the 27 questions.
The Australian reports that “Ms Gibson markets wellness products, a cookbook and an app on the basis that she is a cancer survivor,” Blair Ussher, for CAV, told the court.
Mr Ussher told the court she had been granted a two-week extension to provide documents by June 26, but an hour before the deadline had sought a further delay, saying her lawyer was on holidays.
Mr Ussher said the only communication from Gibson’s lawyers, Mills Oakley, had been an email saying they had stopped acting for her in May.
Barrister Charles Shaw, for Ms Gibson, said Mills Oakley continued to represent her despite ceasing to give legal advice in a related matter.
The Magistrate Michael Smith was most unimpressed by Belle Gibson’s response and ordered that she provide answers to the questions by July 9. He said that many of the questions asked of Belle Gibson were in plain English and were of a nature that only Belle Gibson could answer.
Mr Shaw said is was absurd that Consumer Affairs wanted to compel Belle Gibson to provide answers to questions she had never refused to give.
Magistrate Smith ordered Belle Gibson to provide the answers by July 9 saying “I don’t think she’s going to be out there in the marketplace selling her book, do you?”