Doubt has been cast over Melbourne social media entrepreneur Belle Gibson’s “inspirational” story of cancer survival, as close friends and doctors question her illness and her publisher admits never checking the story.
It comes as Victoria’s consumer watchdog launches an inquiry into fundraising activities run by Ms Gibson who withheld thousands of dollars in charity proceeds.
Fairfax Media on Monday revealed The Whole Pantry founder failed to hand over proceeds solicited in the name of five charities and had grossly overstated the company’s total donations to different causes.
Now, five people in Ms Gibson’s inner circle – each acknowledged in her new book – have revealed their concerns about the app developer’s life story and cancer claims.
Fairfax Media understands some friends held an “intervention” at Ms Gibson’s beachside apartment in Elwood last last year, questioning her about her illness. “She admitted her diagnosis was questionable,” a former friend said.
“I asked her when she got her diagnosis, she said she didn’t know. I asked her who gave her the diagnosis, she said Dr Phil. I asked if Dr Phil had a last name she didn’t know, he disappeared. I asked her where she saw Dr Phil, she said he came and picked [her] up from [her] house.”