Oxford don urges government to step in over ‘immoral’ Mosley donations

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Oxford don urges government to step in over ‘immoral’ Mosley donations

Union of Jewish Students and the university's JSoc air concerns at funds from Mosley's fortune, saying the name is 'synonymous with Fascism and antisemitism in Britain'

Oxford University
Oxford University

An Oxford don said the Government may need to step in over donations from “immoral” sources as evidence top universities accepted millions from the Mosley fortune emerged.

University of Oxford’s St Peter’s College and Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) accepted more than £12 million from the Mosley family since 2017 while Imperial College London was handed almost £2.5 million and University College London (UCL) received £500,000, the Telegraph reported.

The donations were given by the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust (AMCT), set up by motor-racing tycoon Max Mosley for the inheritance he received from his father, Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, according to the newspaper.

The institutions have been criticised by Professor Lawrence Goldman, emeritus fellow in history at St Peter’s, who accused Oxford of “total moral failure” and on Sunday told Sky News that universities should not accept “tainted and dirty money”.

He said: “I believe these universities should largely be self-governing, but if they can’t govern themselves effectively, and according to the moral principles that I think most British people would expect of great universities, then there may be a role for the state, indeed.”

He added: “Oxford has lots of money and can continue to get money from other sources, it does all the time, and I don’t really buy the argument that because you can do some good in Oxford, you should just continue to hold on to what is essentially tainted and dirty money.”

He told the programme that Max Mosley never apologised for “terrorising and intimidating” minority groups and said the position of universities may have been different if he had decided to “atone for those crimes and sins”.

He told Sky News: “What should have happened was that long ago Max Mosley should have apologised for his actions. He should have fessed up to what he has done and then he should have used that money very productively to assist those who were, as it were, on the receiving end – victims of that fascist violence.

“Then, also if you wish to, he could have supported colleges in Oxford in the university.”

The AMCT was named after Max Mosley’s son, an alumnus of St Peter’s College who died of a heroin overdose in 2009.

Some £6 million received by Oxford University will go towards the creation of the Alexander Mosley Professor of Biophysics Fund while a £5 million donation will go to St Peter’s College to build a new block of student accommodation, the Telegraph reported.

Initially, the block was to be called Alexander Mosley House but the college has confirmed a name will now be chosen through an internal consultation involving students.

Concerns were raised by the Union of Jewish Students and the Jewish society at Oxford University, which said they were “distressed” by the donations and professorship.

In a joint statement, they said “the Mosley Family name is synonymous with Fascism and antisemitism in Britain. The University’s decision to dedicate a professorship to this name serves to commemorate and revere the Mosley legacy.

“Furthermore, the absence of any communication and consultation with Oxford’s Jewish students is inconsiderate and inappropriate.

“We encourage Oxford University, and the benefitting colleges, to reflect on the impact these donations will have on its Jewish students and the wider student body.

“As an institution that seeks to promote an inclusive environment for all, we hope that Oxford University and the colleges involved will reconsider their positions.

The suggestion that a building be named after a Mosley drew criticism from Lord Mann, the Government’s antisemitism tsar, who said it was “absurd to give credibility to a family who were active fascists”.

The University of Oxford said the donation, like all donations, passed a “robust, independent process taking legal, ethical and reputational issues into consideration”.

St Peter’s College said the new accommodation would make a “transformative difference” to students’ lives “for generations to come”.

LMH said the funding had allowed student from “very diverse and low-income backgrounds” to attend and that “the gift was therefore fully in line with, and helped to deliver on, LMH’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism”.

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