By Robert Halfon MP
Following my post a few days ago, I thought it would be useful to Conservative Home readers, to set out the links between Libya and the London School of Economics going back to 2003.
Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi, the second son of Colonel Gaddafi enrolls at the LSE in 2003 for an MSc which he completed. He continues his studies there, and was awarded a PhD in 2008.
One prominent Professor, David Held (co-director of the Centre for Global Governance at LSE) is a mentor and adviser to Saif during this time. He's appointed a trustee of Saif`s charity, the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF), although he has subsequently stood down due to “conflicts of interest”.
Professor David Held once described Gadaffi as "someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration".
Anthony Giddens (former director of the LSE) writes an article for the Guardian, titled My Chat With The Colonel. In the article, he argued that Colonel Gaddafi was “sincere about reform”, that “Libya is not especially repressive”, and that Gaddafi “seems genuinely popular”. Giddens goes on to say that “impressive progress” has been made by Libya in recent years, towards reform.
After his studies at the LSE, Saif Gaddafi then makes a £1.5million gift to the LSE from his charity (GICDF) in 2009. The university has said it has only received £300,000 of that grant and the funds so far had been used to “develop a research programme on North Africa”, focused on politics, economics and society. Sir Howard Davies, the director of the LSE, welcomes Saif as the modernising face of the Gaddafi regime. This statement was later deeply undermined when Saif went on state TV in February 2011 to proclaim that his father remained in charge and would ‘fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet’.
Saif Gaddafi makes a public speech at an LSE building in central London (Lincolns Inn Fields), leading to a violent riot between pro- and anti-Libyan groups in London.
It is revealed that Tony Blair was flown to Libya for secret talks with Colonel Gaddafi just days after denying he was an adviser to the dictator. Mr Blair was"'entertained as a brother", and Said Gaddafi claims that Tony Blair had offered Gaddafi ‘'a great deal of invaluable advice". Tony Blair, however, flatly denies that he has ever worked for the Libyan regime.
LSE academics campaign to boycott Israeli academics, led by Dr John Chalcraft, an LSE Professor. When the motion was put to a vote, LSE students overwhelmingly oppose the boycott.
During the debate and outside it, Dr John Chalcraft makes hostile statements about the democratic state of Israel, using phrases like “the Israeli system of Apartheid” and repeatedly comparing the country to pre-Apartheid South Africa.
In February 2011 Saif Gaddafi`s thesis from the LSE is published online. Cases of plagiarism have allegedly been identified.
As a result, pressure is now mounting for the LSE to repeal Saif`s PhD. There are some accusations that Saif`s PHD was pushed through in exchange for the £1.5 million donation.
On 23rd February the LSE announces it will cut all funding ties with Libya.
It's also announced that the specific programmes funded by Saif Gaddafi would be stopped, although the LSE “Global Governance” work would continue, where it was funded from other sources:
Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics puts out a press release, saying that he is “embarrassed” that he accepted money from LSE.
A video emerges of a LSE lecturer, Alia Brahimi, holding a video link meeting with Colonel Gaddafi and students. In the video Alia praises Gaddafi, referring to him as `Brother Leader`. Alia Brahimi is also the individual in charge of managing the £1.5 million gift to the LSE.
On 28th February, the LSE published a statement, stating that they will refer the full £300,000 they have received from Saif to “a scholarship scheme for Libyan students”.
Sir Howard Davies has now said: “We looked at the pros and cons of engaging with someone like Saif Gaddafi and with the problems in North Africa and we decided that we would do so. In retrospect we can say that, knowing what we know now and how he has behaved in this crisis, that’s a judgment that we might have made differently… We took a risk on that and I think it’s right to say that that risk backfired on us.”
Sadly. it is beginning to look like the LSE links with Libya are the tip of the iceberg.
Many other universities are thought to have dubious financial links with Middle Eastern despots. The Saudi Arabians alone have given Oxford University £75 million for a research centre, according to reports. These hidden funds are a scandal waiting to unfold.