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KCL Council Chairman Found to Have Broken House of Lords Rules

Lord Geidt's official photograph from the House of Lords

Chairman Lord Geidt was found to have broken lobbying rules following an investigation by the House of Lords Commissioners for Standards.

The chairman of the King’s College London (KCL) Council, the main executive and policy-making body at the university, was found by the House of Lords watchdog to have broken the rules governing the code of conduct after “assisting an outside organisation in influencing” government.

Lord Geidt, who was Boris Johnson’s former ethics adviser, broke lobbying rules after he attended a meeting with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on behalf of a US satellite company which was paying him at the time.

The investigation was launched following a complaint that in 2021, Theia Group, the satellite company paying Geidt as its UK adviser, was presented to Defence officials during an online meeting.

Theia Group, which is no longer operational, was offering its services to provide “full intelligence and surveillance capacity,” which Geidt believed would exceed the UK’s current space capabilities and would be of interest to the MoD and the Department of Business, according to the investigation report.

Responding to the investigation, Geidt stated that his “role was to ensure that Theia’s contacts with the UK Government were conducted properly.”

But by introducing Theia to officials while on the company’s payroll, the report published by the House of Lords Conduct Committee said: “The commissioner finds that by doing so Lord Geidt provided a parliamentary service in return for payment or other reward. There was in 2021 an absolute prohibition on the provision of such services”.

Geidt tried to appeal the Committee’s decision, but this was dismissed, though it was recognised that he had “sought at all times to behave honourably and to comply with the rules”, by seeking the authorisation of the Cabinet Secretary and previously declaring his staked interest in Theia.

Having concluded that rules of conduct were nonetheless broken, the Committee advised that the peer write a letter of apology to the Chair of the Conduct Committee, which is the “mildest sanction available”, as the Commissioner did “not regard this as a significant breach of the Code.”

In response to the findings, the University and College Union branch of KCL (KCL UCU) posted on X: “Lord Geidt, was paid by US arms company to lobby MoD on its behalf, breaking the parliamentary code of conduct. Does King’s senior management still have full confidence in him?”

The comments come after KCL UCU voted at its general meeting in January in favour of suspending Geidt as chairman of the council while an investigation into his conduct was ongoing.

Roar reached out to King’s for comment but was directed to Lord Geidt’s team. We have not yet received a response.

30/03/24 Update:

A spokesperson for Lord Geidt said: “The report acknowledges that Lord Geidt acted honourably in his evident desire to comply with the rules at all times. Despite that, the Commissioner recommended the mildest sanction of writing a letter of apology  to the Committee’s Chair for the ‘oversight’, which he has duly done. Lord Geidt has a formidable record of public service, including as Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth and as the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.”

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