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KCL Chairman Lord Geidt Revealed as Member of Men-Only Garrick Club

The Garrick Club. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Lord Geidt was among other high-ranking public figures who have faced scrutiny after being revealed as members of the Garrick Club.

The Chairman of the King’s College London (KCL) Council, Lord Geidt, has been revealed as a member of the exclusive Garrick Club, after its secretive membership list was leaked to the public for the first time. It was reported in the Guardian that two lines were required on the list to make room for the flurry of honours and titles of Christopher Geidt, the Rt Hon the Lord, GCB GCVO OBE QSO PC.

Geidt, who has a life peerage in the House of Lords, was among hundreds of other peers, MPs, judges, senior lawyers and civil servants, and other leading figures of the British establishment to be named.

The leaked membership list has exposed the prominence of the Garrick Club as a hub for some of the most powerful people in British society and re-ignited debate around its men-only membership policy. Though some see the club as a harmless, albeit old-fashioned, relic of English high society, the large number of senior British establishment figures who are members has drawn anger from critics.  

Some have questioned whether it is appropriate for those in public roles – leaders and legislators such as Lord Geidt – to be members of a club that bars women when those in positions of leadership are responsible for policies designed to foster inclusivity and diversity.

According to KCL’s own equality, diversity and inclusion policy, the university is “committed to creating an inclusive environment that promotes equality of opportunity for everyone in its community … Equality, diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of King’s Strategic Vision 2029.”

The policy statement notes in particular the significance of those in senior roles for driving inclusivity at KCL. This states: “King’s Leadership is responsible for providing inclusive leadership, visible commitment and role modelling inclusive behaviours.”

The KCL Council is the university’s governing body and has seen Lord Geidt at its helm since 2016. It seems unlikely that the revelation of his Garrick Club membership will affect his position as Chairman, having weathered a number of controversies during his tenure. However, whether Geidt will choose to cancel his membership at the Garrick is not yet clear. In doing so, he would be following the example of the of MI6 chief, Richard Moore, and the head of the civil service, Simon Case, who publicly announced the resignation of their memberships two days after this was revealed.

Speaking to the Guardian, the Labour MP Harriet Harman, who drafted the Equality Act 2010, argued that public officials should not join clubs that do not accept women. She said: “Equality for women is a recognised public policy objective and all those in public life should be committed to that objective. These clubs prop up structures that restrict women’s access to power.”

The Garrick, founded in 1831, describes itself as “a private members’ Club situated in the heart of London’s West End and Theatreland.” Intended as a meeting place for actors and gentlemen, it has long been at the centre of controversy over its refusal to accept female members.

Though women are allowed to enter as guests, entry to certain areas used to be completely forbidden, until the Equality Act 2010 forced the Club to change its policy. Today, female guests may enter the main dining area, and the bars and libraries on the first floor, which were previously inaccessible.

Geidt’s position as Chairman has faced a number of direct challenges in recent years, mostly from the KCL University and College Union (UCU) branch. In January, KCL UCU voted in favour of his immediate suspension pending a House of Lords investigation into potential conflict of interest. KCL UCU has made further demands for the university to reconsider Geidt’s position since it was revealed in 2021 that he was working as an advisor to the arms manufacturer BAE Systems. As well as raising ethical concerns, there were questions around whether this posed a conflict as the university’s endowment fund had investments in BAE at the time.

Roar contacted KCL for comment, but had not received a response by the time of publication.

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