ME Association: Advertising Standards Authority upholds a complaint against a Lightning Process practitioner

ME Association: Advertising Standards Authority upholds a complaint against a Lightning Process practitioner


Update @ 7 July

Phil Parker’s Lightning Process site at is down this morning and the Lightning Process pages of his site are also unavailable.


Read ASA Adjudication on Withinspiration or for full text see previous post

Today, the ME Association reported on the ASA adjudication.

From the News pages of the ME Association

Tuesday, 06 July 2010

ASA Ruling 

A complaint that an internet sponsored link carried an unsubstantiated claim that the Lightning Process can make people with ME/CFS well again has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In a decision announced on 16 June 2010, the ASA ordered the company “Withinspiration” to drop an advertisement which claimed: “Chronic Fatigue Recovery. End the cycle of ME/CFS: Get Well! with The Lightning Process.”

The ASA ruling says: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Withinspiration to ensure they held substantiation before making similar efficacy claiming for the lighting process [sic]”.

The complainant wasn’t named in the ruling but the ASA said the company had told them that they had personal experiences of improvement in medical conditions such as ME, as a result of using The Lightning Process. The process had received a number of celebrity endorsements and positive press reaction, which were testament to its effectiveness.

Although Withinspiration said they held no scientific evidence to support the claims, they said that trials were due to begin in 2010.

 Upholding the claim, the ASA wrote:

“The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).”

“The ASA understood that the lightning process was a three-day course that sought to teach individuals a range of techniques, such as life coaching and neuro-linguistic programming skills, to improve physical and mental well being, particularly amongst those with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or ME.

“We were concerned that Withinspiration did not hold robust evidence to support their claims that the lightning process was an effective treatment for CFS or ME. We therefore reminded them of their obligations under the CAP Code to hold appropriate evidence to substantiate claims prior to publication. Because we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of the lightning process for treating the advertised conditions, we concluded that the claims had not been proven and were therefore misleading.”

◦ No similar claims appear on the Withinspiration website today. The site promotes the work of Alastair Gibson – “one of the most experienced international advanced Lighting Process practitioners”. It gives a contact phone number for the Bournemouth area.

Ed: Note that Lightning Process instructor/trainer/coach, Alastair Gibson, had already identified himself, on his Withinspiration website, as “one of the two practitioners working with the NHS and the young people” in the Dr Esther Crawley led pilot study.

At 29 March, Mr Gibson’s website had carried this information:

“Breaking News – NHS and Lightning Process research collaboration.

“A new pilot study involving the Lightning Process and the NHS has been awarded £164,000 for research into the treatment of CFS/ME in children and adolescents. Alastair Gibson is one of the two practitioners working with the NHS and the young people in this exciting research study. Find out more…”

This statement no longer appears on his website. It is unclear whether Mr Gibson retains an involvement with the proposed pilot study, announced by the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust and University of Bristol in March.

In response to a request for information under FOIA, University of Bristol Information Office is withholding the names of Lightning Process practitioners who have an involvement with the study under Clause 22(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The study, scheduled to start in September, is still going through the ethics approval procedure.  Funding for the pilot had been secured in November 2009.

The names of the ethics committee(s) reviewing the application are also being withheld by University of Bristol. 


Related material:

Press Release issued 2 March 2010: Research study to investigate a chronic childhood condition

For background to this issue see ME agenda 5 July report:

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Adjudication: Withinspiration (Lightning Process)


Poll: Do you think it is ethical to undertake a pilot study looking at the feasibility of recruiting children aged 8 to 18 with CFS and ME into a randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing Lightning Process and specialist medical care when no rigorous RCTs into the application of LP in adults have been undertaken?

Register your opinion here: