Smear campaign to be challenged
PRESS RELEASE – 11 August 2017
Former independent CSA inquiry panel member, Graham Wilmer MBE, launches action to challenge ‘toxic trolls’.
Former independent CSA inquiry panel member, Graham Wilmer MBE, is launching a comprehensive and wide ranging action to combat the daily campaign of harassment and witness intimidation that has been waged against him, his family, his charity(the Lantern Project) and other survivors since September 2014, when he was appointed by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, to assist Fiona Woolf in her role as Chair of the Independent Panel Inquiry into child sexual abuse.
In a letter to the current Chair of the IICSA, Professor Alexis Jay, Mr Wilmer gave notice of the action he is taking, listing examples of the harm and distress he and his family and survivors his charity supports have endured without any support from the Home Office, who appointed him, or the IICSA itself.
Mr Wilmer told Professor Jay: “You were aware of the campaign of harassment started, initially, by a handful of malicious individuals, including some high profile survivors and support groups, which was designed to undermine the inquiry, by spreading malicious falsehoods about myself and Barbara Hearn OBE, which began the day after our appointment to the independent panel of inquiry into child sexual abuse on 5th September 2014.
“What you may not be fully aware of is the extent to which that campaign grew, orchestrated by one particular individual, which has been running now for over two years, fuelled and supported by an army of threat actors, organised and fed by this person and other members of his cohort.
“As the degree of hostility increased, it became necessary to involve Police Scotland, Merseyside Police, North Wales Police, the MPS, Staffordshire Police and Suffolk Police, all of who offered varying degrees of guidance and support, including taking action under the criminal law, which is ongoing. Further arrests and charges are currently awaiting decisions by the CPS.
“During this time, I and other survivors sought to inform the IICSA about the significant harm being done to us, but we were met consistently with a brick wall each time we asked the Home Office or the IICSA to provide some degree of protection, or at least make it clear to the individuals behind the campaign that the IICSA would not tolerate such abuse, which I had first proposed in 2014, and which was agreed by all of the members of the original inquiry panel, and posted on the original web site.
“That policy statement was removed when the IICSA, under the chairmanship of Justice Goddard, established its own web site, and, indeed, we became aware that some of the participants of this campaign, which includes at least 2 members of the VSCP, enjoyed the patronage of Ben Emmerson, who refused to allow myself and survivors we support, to meet with Justice Goddard, to allow us to inform her of the serious harm we were suffering and to warn her that the public statement she made that the inquiry, under her chairmanship, would ‘do no harm’, was at risk of being proven to be a hollow promise.
“The extent to which certain individuals have encouraged this army of toxic trolls and anonymous hate bloggers to inflict untold misery on myself, members of my family, the survivors we support and my charity, the Lantern Project, while at the same time, presenting themselves at every opportunity in the press and on TV, as the representative of survivors’ interests, is totally unacceptable, and we will no longer tolerate this behaviour.
“To illustrate the extent of the harm they have caused, so far with impunity, let me list some of the activities they have engaged in:
- Making false allegations about me to the Home Secretary and to the press, resulting in very damaging articles in the Guardian, the Times, The Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Observer and the Daily Telegraph.
- Instructing solicitors to issue complaints about me to the Home Secretary, which were also published in the Observer.
- Instructing solicitors to issue written warnings to me, demanding I sign a list of undertakings, preventing me from taking any action to defend myself and my family from their campaign against me. I have asked these solicitors to confirm if the costs of this work are being charged to the IICSA, but they have so far refused to answer the question. If it turns out that they have charged these costs to the public purse, that would be fraudulent.
- Making false allegations to the Police, resulting in police harassment warnings (PINS) being issued against me by 2 police forces (Northumbria Police and Suffolk Police), one of which was subsequently rescinded on the instructions of the CPS, as it was deemed unlawful. The second, made by another individual is being challenged on the same basis.
- Passing false information about me to persons under investigation by the police, in order to undermine witnesses, because of their involvement with the Lantern Project, which was then passed to the Sunday Times and other newspapers, who published it, resulting in the withdrawal of our NHS funding, which led to the collapse of the Lantern Project CIC.
- Making false allegations about myself, the Lantern Project and members of my family, to the Charity Commission, the Information Commissioner, the CIC Regulator and organisations which funded us.
- Making FOI requests to a university we were working with, and to our funders, Wirral CCG, the responses to which were then passed to one of the authors of the malicious blog Real Troll Exposure, who published extracts to support claims that we were somehow acting unlawfully.
- Using social media to make thousands of malicious posts about us, including the claim that we were responsible for the death of one of the survivors we were supporting, who died along with a friend as the result of a carbon monoxide poisoning accident. The claim suggested that we had ‘killed’ him in order to profit from his death.
- Making contact with the employer of a very vulnerable survivor we support in an attempt to undermine her job.
- Urging other trolls to post on twitter defamatory statements about myself, members of my family, the Lantern Project and survivors we support, in order to destabilise us, and, in one case, mocking a survivor, following her admission to hospital; even going so far as baiting her to take an overdose, at a time when she was in a very vulnerable state.
- Repeatedly posting on social media that myself and a survivor we support are ‘cunts’, ‘liars’ ‘fantasists’, and other derogatory terms. They also used the declarations I made in my due diligence letter to the Home Secretary, to persuade their followers that I was a ‘paedophile apologist’, as I had disclosed in my letter that a convicted sex offender, Mathew Byrne, had been a trustee of the Lantern Project, and had also lodged at our home for a period of 6 months, several years before he committed the crimes he was subsequently convicted of, as if I was somehow involved in those offences. This resulted in widespread re-posting of this lie, which required the police to put a marker on our home.
This list is just a sample of the campaign we have been subjected to by (names provided) along with a number of anonymous twitter accounts and blogs, which to date, total in excess of two thousand malicious postings about us, all of which are designed to cause us alarm and distress, and to undermine us as witnesses.
With the IICSA now in yet another phase of reorganisation, and particularly with the departure of its QC and other senior figures, we feel that it is now time to put a stop to this hate campaign, and to expose those involved for what they really are. I would hope that you, as chair of the IICSA, and as a former colleague on the previous Panel Inquiry, will support us in our effort to restore the balance of influence, and put a stop to the malicious, unlawful and unacceptable behaviour of these individuals, whose objective is simply to cause as much harm and distress as they possibly can, because they believe they have impunity, which, as the actions we will now take will show, they do not. I look forward to your response before too long.”
Issued by Graham Wilmer – Director The Lantern Project, registered charity No. 1097265,