Belle Gibson has traded heavily off her story as a young mother treating terminal brain cancer with nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
Today the founder of popular food app the Whole Pantry is facing a backlash over unpaid charity proceeds and has been accused of deleting critical comments from the company’s official social media pages.
Fairfax Media on Sunday revealed Ms Gibson, failed to hand over money raised through two charity drives in 2013 and 2014. Four of the five charities promoted as beneficiaries had no knowledge of the #fundraising campaigns, which included a function and an online promotion promising to donate app sale proceeds.
Belle Gibson said the company had been unable to pass on money raised due to cashflow problems.
Ms Gibson said the company had been unable to pass on money raised due to cashflow problems and had hired external accountants to manage its struggling finances. The Whole Pantry posted a detailed statement to its vast online following on Sunday night in which it said the company’s books were not in order and that it fully intended to make the charitable payments.
“TWP’s new business management and accounts team are working through the workload of bringing the accounts and business up to date and all charities have been openly communicated with and are aware of our intentions to uphold this financial support when the necessary keepings of the business are finalised,” it said.
But the statement sparked a slew of criticism against The Whole Pantry and Ms Gibson. Followers said the company had deleted negative posts from its Facebook page and blocked those who questioned its fundraising activities on social media. Comments casting doubt over Ms Gibson’s story of cancer survival are also believed to have been deleted.
The Australian has since revealed that Ms Gibson is now claiming that her most recent cancer crisis is a “misdiagnosis” by a doctor that she won’t name. Ms Gibson has also misled the media about her real age.
Publisher Penguin Random House will investigate the medical claims of author Belle Gibson, after it was revealed the well-known cancer survivor may not have had cancer after all.
Ms Gibson had claimed she suffered from multiple cancers but is now quoted in The Australian newspaper as saying she had a “misdiagnosis”.
The success of Gibson’s book, The Whole Pantry, and her smartphone application has been largely dependent on her high-profile as a cancer survivor, which made her an advocate for natural therapies.
Penguin Random House said it did not have proof Ms Gibson had cancer prior to publishing the book and it was concerned about the questions now being raised.
The news comes on top of allegations promised donations to charities have not been paid by the company she founded, The Whole Pantry.
In a statement published on the company’s Facebook page, The Whole Pantry admitted cash flow problems.
“All remaining promised donations and support will be honoured as soon as the finances are in order,” it said.
But neither Ms Gibson nor The Whole Pantry are registered charity fundraisers, and Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) said all organisations raising funds for charity must be registered.