Publishing giant Penguin will pull health blogger Belle Gibson’s debut cook book after the author has failed to explain why she withheld charitable donations, and defend accusations of falsely claiming to have cancer by friends and former colleagues .
The founder of The Whole Pantry app hit back at her critics at the weekend on Facebook, breaking her silence about the confusion.
Ms Gibson lashed out at former friends and acquaintances who had publicly doubted her claims of being ill, telling them via a long Facebook post to “make yourself invisible to me”.
The 23-year-old Melbourne woman has been under close scrutiny after it was revealed many of the charities the organisation had promised to donate to had not received any money.
Media reports suggest Ms Gibson was called into Penguin’s offices to go over her cancer story, detailed in the extensive preface to The Whole Pantry, just weeks before its release last October.
Sources said Ms Gibson described the meeting – in which she was put in front of a video camera and repeatedly asked about her background and medical condition – as an “interrogation”.
The publisher has previously admitted never fact checking Ms Gibson’s story, which claims healthy living and natural therapies helped her treat multiple terminal cancers.
Ms Gibson has so far offered no evidence to support her claims of surviving cancers after rejecting conventional treatment.
On Monday, Penguin released a statement saying they had not “received sufficient explanation from Ms Gibson” about the allegations.
“Despite our best endeavours, we have not received sufficient explanation from Ms Gibson, author of The Whole Pantry recipe book, in response to recent allegations,” Penguin said in a statement.
“As such, we have been left with no other option but to stop supplying the book in Australia.
“We remain hopeful that we will receive the formal assurances we have requested in the coming days.”
The questions came on top of allegations that promised donations to charities made by The Whole Pantry had not been paid.
In a statement on Facebook, The Whole Pantry blamed it on cash flow problems.
The Whole Pantry recipe book was released in Australia last year and is scheduled to be launched in the USA and England next month.
It is unclear if the launch will go ahead.
— Tammerly (@spoiltblog) March 16, 2015
— News Australia (@NewsAustralia) March 16, 2015
– with ABC