Prestigious school in trouble over relations with Gaddafi and clan
LONDON: Britain’s prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) was guilty of a ‘chapter of failures’ during its close dealings with Libya’s deposed Gaddafi regime, according to a report released on Wednesday. It singled out former LSE director Howard Davies’ decision to let the school accept a £1.5-million ($2.3-million, 1.75-million-euro) gift from a foundation run by Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of former leader Gaddafi.
Davies resigned over the issue in March, as international outrage grew over Gaddafi’s crackdown on the uprising in his country.The report also revealed that Oxford University had rejected a request by the government of Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair to offer Seif Gaddafi a place there to smooth relations between Libya and the west.
The LSE had exposed itself to a “significant degree of risk”, which materialised with Gaddafi’s violent response to Libya’s February uprising, said the report’s author, former judge Harry Woolf.There had been a “chapter of failures” in scrutinizing the proposed donation, which was to be paid in five annual installments of £300,000, he wrote.
“The actual source of money gifted… was never established,” the report added: “Seif Gaddafi’s word alone was relied upon.”Woolf added that responsibility for the mistakes “must rest” with Davies, despite his ‘great experience and ability’ Seif Gaddafi graduated from LSE with an M.Sc. in philosophy, policy and social value in 2003 and a PhD in philosophy in 2008. A separate investigation is probing claims that his PhD thesis contained plagiarised material.
The receipt of the first installment, six weeks after Gaddafi was awarded his PhD, was ‘unfortunate’ and ‘risky’, said the report and had led people to believe that he had ‘purchased his degree’. The university’s North Africa programme was set up in 2009 with a grant from Seif Gaddafi’s International Charity and Development Foundation.
LSE said the foundation’s grant came “without any academic restrictions” and was used to research human rights, democracy and civil society.
The school had also agreed a £2.2 million deal to train Libya’s civil servants before the uprising.Woolf said the school had been ‘naive’ and had been driven by an “idealism factor”, believing it could help Libya through Seif Gaddafi.
Woolf also wrote that Professor Valpy FitzGerald, the head of Oxford’s Department of International Development, had told how a senior foreign ministry official had approached him in 2002 about getting Seif a place there.