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 Ms 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.
Consumer Affairs Victoria said it was questioning Ms Gibson about any fundraising appeals and donations made to charities.
“Once we ascertain the facts, CAV will be able to make an assessment of the situation and determine whether any further action is appropriate,” a spokeswoman said.
People found guilty of misrepresenting fundraising events face up to 12 months in jail.
The Whole Pantry smartphone application is on sale for $3.79 and has been downloaded 300,000 times.
The Whole Pantry recipe book was released in Australia last year and is scheduled to be launched in the USA and England next month.
Penguin Random House would not say if the international launch of The Whole Pantry book would go ahead.
“We really need to be in touch with Belle before we comment any further,” a spokeswoman said.