Imperial and UCL caught up in Mosley row

The row over “fascist” donations deepened last night as it emerged more of the country’s most prestigious universities have received cash from the Mosley family trust.

Imperial College London has been handed almost £2.5 million from the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust over the past five years, while University College London (UCL) has received £500,000.

Both universities have scrambled in recent years to analyse the bequests of past benefactors and have made a series of pledges to rename buildings and address “abhorrent” racist legacies.

But The Telegraph can reveal that at the same time, they have accepted donations from a charitable trust set up by Max Mosley to house the fortune he inherited from his father, Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists.

Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, with some of his men

Credit:
Keystone

Last summer, at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, UCL renamed lecture theatres and a building named after the prominent eugenicists Francis Galton and Karl Pearson.

The renaming of the buildings was part of a package of measures being introduced to tackle the association it deems unsavory, including funding new scholarships to study race and racism.

Imperial commissioned an independent group of historians to recommend ways in which it could confront “uncomfortable and awkward aspects of our past”.

Last month, the group advised the university to remove a bust of slavery abolitionist Thomas Henry Huxley because he “might now be called racist”.

The group also recommended that a bust of the renowned 19th century biologist, dubbed “Darwin’s bulldog”, be taken down and the Huxley Building on campus renamed.

UCL and Imperial both received donations from the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust, which Max Mosley set up in the name of his son who died of a heroin overdose in 2009.

Max Mosley, pictured in 2011, was the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley

Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley

UCL was handed half a million pounds to set up a forensic evidence interpretation laboratory, the trust’s 2019 accounts show. Meanwhile, Imperial College London has received £2,445,000 from the trust over the past five years.

Of this, £1,150,000 has been used to fund research by Professor David Nutt, an expert in neuropsychopharmacology, and Dr Ben Sassa, a consultant psychiatrist and research fellow at Imperial. Another £1,095,000 was given to Imperial to set up a Centre for Psychedelic Research.

Kingston and Westminster universities have each received smaller sums of £137,445 and £84,965, respectively, an analysis of the trust’s accounts revealed. Kingston said the money was used to develop an online archive of the Leveson Inquiry into press culture and Westminster said the donation funded an analysis of the “origins and shortcomings of the press regulator IPSO” and another project on local news provision.

Sir Oswald Mosley led the British Union of Fascists and its successor, the Union Movement, both of which spread anti-Semitic and racist propaganda.

The party’s supporters, known as the blackshirts, wore Nazi-style uniforms and were notorious for their violence against Jews and Left-wing groups.

Motor-racing tycoon

Max Mosley took up his father’s fascist cause by supporting the Union Movement’s activities in London during the late 1950s and 1960s.

He went on to become a motor-racing tycoon and later in life led a crusade against the press, bankrolling Impress, the alternative regulator.

Mosley had been caught up in a News of the World sting operation, which exposed his participation in an orgy.

Earlier this week, The Telegraph revealed that Oxford University and its colleges have been handed over £12 million from the Mosley family trust. The university came under fire from its own dons as well as senior political figures, who accused the institution of “vast hypocrisy”.

Prof Lawrence Goldman, emeritus fellow in history at Oxford, said: “The university has gone off the scale in wokery,” citing recent moves to decolonise the curriculum and the row over Cecil Rhodes’ statue, "but they go ahead and take money from a fund established by proven and known fascists. Its moral compass is just not working anymore. There has been a total moral failure.”

In a joint statement, Oxford’s Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish students said the fact they had not been consulted about the donations was "inconsiderate and inappropriate".

They called on the university and colleges involved to consider their positions and said: "The Mosley family name is synonymous with fascism and anti-Semitism in Britain. The university’s decision to dedicate a professorship to this name serves to commemorate and revere the Mosley legacy."

Putting donations to good use

An Imperial College London spokesperson said: “These charitable donations support medical research into new therapies for treatment-resistant depression and other serious mental health conditions. Like all gifts, they are subject to Imperial’s thorough due diligence processes.”

A Kingston University spokesperson confirmed the donation, adding: “The Discover Leveson website is a searchable digital resource, providing the public with access to evidence from the landmark inquiry.”

A Westminster University spokesperson said: “As an organisation we are committed to ensuring an actively anti-racist, inclusive and safe environment for all.” UCL declined to comment.

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