Secret video of fake wellness blogger Belle Gibson shows publisher had doubts about her cancer story

Penguin, the publisher of cancer faker Belle Gibson's Whole Pantry book, may have had concerns about her story before it was printed - but did so anyhow.

It's been revealed in a secret video shown to Melbourne's Federal Court that Penguin staff questioned Gibson about her story in depth.

The video shows Gibson answering - often vaguely - questions from Penguin staff regarding details her cancer and treatment and finances during a 90-minute interview, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

At one point, a Penguin official says: "This is just for us ... so that if you are sitting opposite a Good Weekend journalist who's asking you quite investigative questions ...

we want to rehearse some questions with you", according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Penguin for comment.

Gibson made more than $420,000 from her fabricated story and despite saying "large" portions were going to charity, she only donated $10,000, the court heard.

Her Whole Pantry app and book made the 24-year-old $420,000, however, it has been also reported she made as much as $578,005.

During a 2014 interview, she said she chose charities to donate large amounts of the money to quarterly, 7 News reported.

"So far we've given to nine charities," she said in the interview, which was shown in court.

But instead the money was spend on cars and travel, and only $10,000 was given to charity, it was reported.

Annabelle Natalie Gibson failed to appear in court for the fourth time on Tuesday for a hearing with Consumer Affairs Victoria, which has launched legal action against the disgraced author after she falsely claimed to use "natural remedies" to cure terminal cancer.

Consumer Affairs told the court the mother-of-one engaged in "unconscionable conduct" by claiming she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 and given only four months to live before miraculously healed herself naturally after rejecting conventional treatments.

The watchdog also accuses her of engaging in misleading or deceptive commerce by making the unsubstantiated claims on social media to promote her Whole Pantry book and app.

Consumer Affairs' barrister, Catherine Button, noted Gibson publicly stated she had a stroke at work and was subsequently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in June 2009.

Gibson told her Facebook and Instagram followers she started receiving oral chemotherapy for her cancer before abandoning conventional medicine.

Gibson then told her large social media following she started "getting back to basics" and opted for healthy foods and natural therapies which healed her cancer, the court heard.

She removed the posts once it was revealed her diagnosis and health empire was a sham.

"Her publisher went out and published her book on the basis of her claims," Ms Button said on Tuesday.

Penguin paid Gibson's company almost $264,000 for her The Whole Pantry cookbook, according to court documents.

The book was released in October 2014 and withdrawn from sale five months later.

Her app was downloaded more than 115,000 times between between August 2013 and May 2016 at $2.99 a pop.

The barrister also read out excerpts from a transcript of a 60 Minutes interview with Gibson last year during which she admitted she'd never had cancer.

This comes as a judge was urged to 'throw the book' at Gibson by cancer sufferer Ashley, who did not give her last name, as the court prepared to try her case despite her already failing to attend three court dates.

Justice Debbie Mortimer said there would be 'tough consequences', if she failed to appear.

When earlier questioned on whether she thought she'd ever face charges, Gibson said: 'No, I don't think I will'.

Consumer Affairs Victoria said it would push ahead with the civil case in her absence, aiming to see her severely fined for duping thousands of followers.

Gibson could be fined up to $1.1 million and the watchdog also wants her to apologise with public notices in major newspapers.

Friends of Gibson are reported to have said she is "hoping [the case] will all go away" if she ignores the court warnings.

The hearing before Justice Debra Mortimer continues.

- Daily Mail

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