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Written by Student Rights on 1 December 2011 at 10am

Woolf Inquiry in LSE-Libya ties: immediate reaction

An inquiry into the London School of Economics' ties with Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime today reported that the links between Libya and the LSE 'seriously damaged the LSE's reputation' with Saif Gaddafi receiving 'a level of assistance [for his PhD] unknown to his lead supervisor... which would not be available to the typical PhD student.'

The report notes that the £1.5m donated to the LSE by Saif Gaddafi's foundation in part came from 'foreign contractors operating in Libya, one of which, according to due diligence available at the time, had a prior conviction for bribery'. Key recommendations include bringing the LSE up to the standard of any global organisation in having an embedded ethics, code.

Student Rights concurs with the recommendations outlined in the report with the additional recommendation of revoking Saif Gaddafi's PhD given that he evidently received help beyond that of a normal student and that Saif spent much time outside of London, despite a usual LSE requirement that PhD students be resident in the capital: "the regulations which governed Saif’s registration with the School for his MPhil/PhD programme contained a clear residency requirement". (2.110)

The findings of the inquiry have been welcomed by the campus watch group 'Student Rights' which monitors extremism and university funding sources across the United Kingdom.

Speaking about the inquiries findings, Raheem Kassam director of Student Rights said:

"Lord Woolf's report outlines the dangers faced by UK universities in accepting private and more importantly, foreign funding. The LSE is not in isolation in this, however it provides the clearest and most egregious example of systemic failures to address numerous concerns flagged by academics and LSE Council members at the time.

Saif Gaddafi received preferential treatment and on the day he was awarded his PhD, made a £1.5m donation to the university's Global Governance department. In anyone's eyes, this looks suspicious and telling of an organisation that simply had not done its homework on the matter.

We recommend that the LSE revoke Saif Gaddafi's PhD immediately, in line with our recommendations."

The report also highlighted that lines of communication were not good enough at the university, with Adrian Hall, director of Administration telling Lord Woolf that he had 'not appreciated just how extensive the LSE's involvement with Libya had become'. Director at the time, Sir Howard Davis (now resigned) said that he was not even aware of Saif Gaddafi's presence at the university during his MSc year 'until he heard the name “Gaddafi” called, and handed Saif an MSc at his graduation ceremony'.

Student Rights have since released various reports into university funding across the United Kingdom, highlighting issues with Durham University and the Iranian government, Saudi Arabia and the School of Oriental and African Studies, and Exeter University and Gaddafi's regime.

Kassam has also said, "Universities in the United Kingdom have a moral and ethical responsibility to their stakeholders, that is their students, the parents of those students, donors and the taxpayers who fund them. British universities need to analyse their funding across the board and come clean about where their money comes from, alongside developing embedded ethics codes and due diligence procedures."

The full report of the inquiry can be found here.