Lantern Project Loses NHS Funding

From the Daily Mail:

A charity which has helped two key witnesses in the VIP child sex abuse investigation has lost NHS funding amid concerns over its use of a controversial therapy which can generate false memories.

The Lantern Project was stripped of financial support after fears were raised over its governance, counselling techniques and use of unqualified staff.

The move raises further questions about the judgment of Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who championed two alleged victims of VIP abuse helped by the charity. 

As opposed, presumably, to “questions about the judgment” of the Daily Mail, which for years has run articles promoting the Lantern Project and its founder, Graham Wilmer – here’s one from almost exactly a year ago, and here’s one from 2010. The 2014 article describes Wilmer as a “government adviser”, noting he had been “appointed by Theresa May to the controversial historic sex abuse inquiry”; Wilmer subsequently declined to re-apply when a new panel was created a few months later, but if there are questions about Watson, why are there not also “questions about the judgment” of the government?

The article also mentions “the disgraced ‘investigative’ news website Exaro”; but until a few months ago the Mail was very happy to refer to the site as a credible source, just as it described Watson as “campaigning MP Tom Watson”. That, of course, was before Watson became deputy leader of the Labour Party.

I’ve expressed misgivings about Exaro‘s approach, and I am of the view that Watson has made mistakes in his advocacy of CSA claims; but the Mail‘s reverse ferret, which began a couple of months ago, is hard to take.

The statement by the NHS Wirral Commissioning Group can be seen here; there is no specific reference to “recovered memories”. The Mail appears to have inferred that this may have been factor from a critical article that appeared in the Sunday Times in October, which described the Lantern Project as using “a controversial therapy experts fear could generate false memories” – I discussed this report, and the Lantern Project’s response, here.

As I noted previously, Wilmer comes across on Twitter as strangely aggressive character, posting triumphant and goading messages that boast of discrediting disclosures just around the corner (“tick tock” being a favourite phrase). This left a very poor professional impression. Wilmer also appears to have a grudge against a former MP, and this individual has been named as an abuser by one of Lantern’s clients. This creates the unfortunate sense of a conflict of interest.

Last month, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse launched a “Truth Pilot Project” in Liverpool. The launch event included comments from the Merseyside Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre and Stepping Stones North Wales; the Lantern Project was conspicuously not mentioned.


The new Mail article repeats an error that appeared in the Sunday Times report in claiming that recovered memories “played a part in false abuse cases such as the Cleveland child abuse scandal in 1987”. In fact, the Cleveland case was driven by a quack medical misdiagnosis.