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UCL statement on the London Conference on Intelligence

18 January 2018

UCL is totally committed to vigorously combatting racism and sexism in all forms, both on our campus, and beyond.  In doing so we must, however, also acknowledge that we have a legal obligation to protect free speech on campus, within the law, even if the views expressed are inconsistent with the values and views of UCL.

UCL takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that these principles are adhered to at all times by all staff and holders of honorary titles. Transgression of these principles will trigger a well-established procedure of an investigation followed, where relevant, by a disciplinary hearing, which can result in a full range of sanctions.

Following the disclosure that the London Conference on Intelligence had been held at UCL, UCL immediately set up an investigation team led by the head of the relevant Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, with three other senior academics. They will investigate the Conferences on Intelligence in London and where possible, the content of the presentations that were given, and the way in which external booking procedures were ostensibly breached, without UCL being informed of their purpose or content.  The investigation will also review the circumstances in which the organiser was awarded an honorary senior lectureship. This investigation is already underway and the panel aims to complete its investigations as soon as possible, hopefully within weeks.

UCL does not and has not endorsed the London Conference on Intelligence and formally complained to Youtube that the use of UCL’s logo with videos posted by the conference organisers constituted a trademark infringement. There is no record of a request for the conference, and the logo being used is a doctored version which is in breach of UCL brand guidelines, including terms and conditions. The videos are no longer publicly available on the conference’s Youtube channel. After requests from the university, the organiser said he would remove the entire channel from Youtube.

We understand the concerns of staff and students about this affair but it is necessary, in the interests of natural justice, that the investigation is given time and space to investigate and ground all the facts.

The President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur has, however, made clear his own disdain for eugenics: “I personally have no support for eugenics and I regard it as complete nonsense.  I am appalled by the concept of white supremacy and will not tolerate anything on campus that incites racial hatred or violence. UCL is committed to an unflinching examination of its historic role in eugenics as exemplified by the range of events and exhibitions we have supported on the subject.”

There is an ongoing discussion about UCL’s history at the start of the last century and the role of key figures in eugenics. Although not directly addressing the issue of eugenics, a separate working party is already looking to develop criteria and processes for dealing with the naming and calls to de-name UCL facilities. The President and Provost has also agreed to engage with student union officers and with UCL’s Race Equality steering group to extend this work to cover the wider issues highlighted by this affair and concerns expressed by the wider University community.

Anyone who has any relevant information should send it to media relations for passing onto the inquiry, contacts for which are available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/services/contact/index.

Statement on 10 January 2018

"UCL is investigating a potential breach of its room bookings process for events after being alerted to conferences on intelligence hosted by an honorary senior lecturer at UCL.

"Our records indicate the university was not informed in advance about the speakers and content of the conference series, as it should have been for the event to be allowed to go ahead.

"The conferences were booked and paid for as an external event and without our officials being told of the details. They were therefore not approved or endorsed by UCL.

"We are an institution that is committed to free speech but also to combatting racism and sexism in all forms.

"We have suspended approval for any further conferences of this nature by the honorary lecturer and speakers pending our investigation into the case.

"As part of that investigation, we will be speaking to the honorary lecturer and seeking an explanation." 

Addition to statement on January 14

“Following the controversy over the London Conference on Intelligence, UCL has set up an inquiry team led by the head of UCL’s Division of Psychology & Language Sciences with three other senior academics. They will investigate the Conferences, the way in which they ostensibly breached external booking procedures and the circumstances in which the organiser was awarded an honorary senior lectureship. The inquiry is already underway and the panel aims to complete its investigations as soon as possible.”