Consumer Affairs Victoria is preparing to take legal action against Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd (in liquidation) ACN 164 850 748 (formerly known as Belle Gibson Pty Ltd) and its sole director, Ms Annabelle Gibson, following an in-depth investigation into alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law and Australian Consumer Law (Victoria).
The alleged contraventions relate to false claims by Ms Gibson and her company concerning her diagnosis with terminal brain cancer, her rejection of conventional cancer treatments in favour of natural remedies, and the donation of proceeds to various charities.
Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon Cohen has applied for leave to commence proceedings against Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd (in liquidation) in the Federal Court of Australia. Leave is required because the company is in liquidation.
If leave is granted, Mr Cohen intends to commence proceedings against Inkerman Road Nominees and Ms Gibson.
Mr Cohen added he was pleased that Penguin Australia Pty Ltd, publishers of The Whole Pantry book, had willingly co-operated with a concurrent investigation that examined whether the company had also contravened the ACL (Vic).
Mr Cohen said Penguin had agreed to an enforceable undertaking acknowledging that it had not required Ms Gibson to substantiate her claims prior to the book’s publication.
Included in the terms of the enforceable undertaking is that Penguin will make a $30,000 donation to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund.
Penguin must also enhance its compliance, education and training program with a specific focus on ensuring all claims about medical conditions are substantiated, and that statements about natural therapies are accompanied by a prominent warning notice.
“This is an important step in ensuring that consumers receive only verified information and are not deceived, particularly where serious matters of health and medical treatment are concerned,” Mr Cohen said.