UCL launches investigation into secret eugenics conference

Annual event run by honorary lecturer featured white supremacist speakers and was attended by Toby Young 

January 11, 2018
University College London

UCL has launched an investigation into how a senior academic was able to secretly host an annual conference on eugenics and intelligence that heard from white supremacists and was attended by Toby Young.

The annual London Conference on Intelligence took place at the university four times since its inception in 2014 and was dominated by a group of white supremacists with neo-Nazi links, according to the London Student newspaper.

The events were organised by James Thompson, an honorary senior lecturer in psychology at the university, and included contributions from a researcher who previously advocated child rape, it added. 

Papers presented at the event included research on the alleged links between genetics and racial disparities in intelligence.

Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University and assistant editor of the journal Mankind Quarterly, which has been described as a “white supremacist journal”, also spoke at the event in 2015 and 2016. He has called for the “phasing out” of “the population of incompetent cultures”.

Controversial journalist Toby Young, who resigned from the board of the Office for Students this week after just nine days in the role, attended the conference in May last year.

In a statement, UCL said that it 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,” it said.

“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.”

It added that it has suspended approval for “any further conferences of this nature by the honorary lecturer and speakers pending our investigation into the case” and has contacted Dr Thompson for an explanation.

“We are an institution that is committed to free speech but also to combatting racism and sexism in all forms,” it said.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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