Friday, March 4, 2011

London School of Economics chief resigns over Gaddafi links

London: The director of London School of Economics Howard Davies resigned on Thursday night owning responsibility for the institution’s ill-advised links with the 42-year-old dictatorial regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, now under siege.
The LSE is under considerable pressure after revelations that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son and political heir of the Colonel, allegedly plagiarised his PhD thesis which was accepted by LSE in 2008.
It further surfaced that Saif al-Islam had thereafter curiously donated 1.5 million pounds to his alma mater with a string attached. The last straw was a connected deal embraced by Davies on behalf of LSE to train hundreds of young Libyans to become Gaddafi’s henchmen.
Davies writes in his resignation letter, “The short point is that I am responsible for the school’s reputation, and that has suffered.’’ He admitted that accepting money from Libya “has turned out to be a mistake’’.
Meanwhile, LSE moved swiftly to announce that it had set up an independent external inquiry led by a former chief justice of England and Wales, Lord Harry Woolf, into the school’s relationship with Libya and the embarrassing allegations about Saif al-Islam’s thesis. According to a United States diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks, the British government was party to the deal to bring 400 Libyans to Britain for leadership training. The British Foreign Office denied this.
But, undeniably, LSE’s reputation has taken a severe beating over its Libyan liaison. On Tuesday, it decided to put 300,000 pounds it has received so far from Saif al-Islam into a scholarship for north African students.
The school’s students have demanded that the Gaddafi donation be returned. LSE students’ union spokesman Ashok Kumar told reporters, “Recent revelations have shone a light on one part of the relationship between the upper echelons of LSE and the Gaddafi family, which is deeper and more perverse than we would have ever imagined. This issue is damaging the reputation of the school which should be a place of learning and not at the centre of unscrupulous dealings with the Libyan regime.’’

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