The Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) reported optimistically on 1 September that they would start the new academic year with a record-high number of students, courses and lecturers. Among the guest lecturers of the facility, they named Mr Andrew John Laughland. MCC said that Laughland was a co-worker of the European Parliament and author of numerous intellectual history books. They also said Laughland was committed to conservative values, while his work centred around the relationship between the nation-state and international institutions, especially the EU. Mr Laughland was interrogated by British counter-terrorism agents in Gatwick for allegedly being a Russian spy.
Szabolcs Panyi, a journalist of Direkt36, a Hungarian investigative journalism centre, wrote the day before yesterday that Mr Laughland was arrested by British counter-terrorism agents on 7 October after he landed at Gatwick Airport, near London. Mr Laughland reported about what happened to him on the website of the Dutch Forum for Democracy party (FvD).
He said the British officers were amateurish. They asked questions to which they could have found the answers on his Wikipedia site. He stated he was not allowed to get legal help because he was not taken into custody officially. However, counter-terrorism agents seized all his official papers, passport and IDs, so he could not have left the airport. He highlighted Great Britain was an autocratic state because of how they treated him. However, he did not tell why he was apprehended.
Later, Thierry Baudet, the chairman of the FvD party, acknowledged in an interview that Mr Laughland was interrogated by British counter-intelligence for allegedly being a Russian spy, hellomagyar.hu wrote.
In the new interview Dutch politician Thierry Baudet @thierrybaudet acknowledges that #fvd @fvdemocratie director and Kremlin liaison John #Laughland was detained in Britain last week by UK anti-terrorism police and "questioned for being a Russian spy" #Baudet #Putin #Russia pic.twitter.com/8wWjYPpoSb— dr. Marina (@mmeeuw) October 17, 2022
Laughland started to work as a guest lecturer at Budapest’s elite college of advanced studies, the Mathias Corvinus College, this September. The college was given 10-10 percent of MOL and Richter bonds worth HUF 289 billion (EUR 700m) in 2020. The 2021 dividend was HUF 12 billion (EUR 30m), so the institution’s financial background is stable, and they could pay excellent salaries for their visiting tutors. That was 10 thousand EUR/month plus allowances (housing, travel, etc.) this September.
Based on the Dutch NRC, Laughland arrived at Gatwick from Budapest when counter-terrorism agents detained him. According to Pany, the British lecturer was a regular guest on Russia Today. The Atlantic Council wrote about him in 2016 that the “Eurosceptic British historian and frequent commentator on the Russian-funded television network RT was director of studies at the IDC, which was funded by Russian charitable NGOs (non-governmental organizations). The Russian government makes use of the long-established cultural institutions associated with the presence of an important Russian diaspora in France that dates back to the 1920s and the Soviet period.” Recently, Laughland expressed views that the Americans blew up the Nord Stream pipeline to ensure that Europeans would buy American LNG instead of Russian natural gas.
Of course, all the above written does not support he was ever a Russian spy. However, this conviction in Great Britain would cast a long shadow at the Hungarian government. That is because the prime minister’s political director, Mr Balázs Orbán, sits on the board of trustees of the MCC. That leads us to another question Mr Panyi asks in his Facebook post: should guest lecturers have a (national security) clearance probe before they start their work in Hungary?