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AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills/PA Images Photo dated 23 August 2011 of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.
# London School of Economics
London School of Economics accepted £1.5m gift from Gaddafi foundation
The Woolf inquiry into LSE’s links with Libya has criticised its former director for accepting the gift from the foundation run by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – who holds an LSE PhD.

AN INQUIRY into possible links between the London School of Economics (LSE) and the Gaddafi family has found that the college accepted a £1.5 million donation from the foundation run by Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who has a PhD from LSE.

Saif al-Islam was captured by revolutionary fighters earlier this month and is expected to be tried in Libya for alleged crimes against humanity.

The report was compiled by Lord Woolf who led the external investigation and published today by the college, which had commissioned the inquiry in early March 2011.

Woolf says that an LSE professor, David Held, approached Gaddafi’s son about funding for the college in December 2008 after Saif al-Islam’s degree was awarded, but before the official conferral ceremony.

The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Fund pledged a £1.5 million donation to LSE, of which the college says one-fifth was received. The donation was offered as a serious of annual £300,000 payments over a period of five years.

In his report, Woolf questioned the propriety of accepting a donation connected with the Gaddafi regime and of committing to that length of a relationship: “This was not a one-off donation but the founding of a relationship between the School and the donor, which is not unusual.”

He also questioned the source of the funds, saying that it is not clear if the money donated through the Gaddafi foundation had been paid to Saif al-Islam as bribes “to look upon private companies with favour”.

“Council was certainly not told of the chequered history of bribery of one of the alleged sponsors of the gift,” Woolf said.

LSE’s director at the time of the donation’s acceptance was Howard Davies, who resigned in the wake of reports of connections between the college and Libya. The Woolf report said that “Despite his great experience and ability, responsibility for what went wrong must rest with the Director [Davies].”

Awarding the PhD

LSE said in a statement that it would implement “all 15 of Lord Woolf’s recommendations in consultation with the academic community”. It also noted that the organised has already brought in changes to its PhD programmes and revised its donations policy and further measures on donations will be developed.

Responding to the report today, LSE’s director Prof Judith Rees said it would help the college to “move on from this unhappy chapter in its otherwise celebrated history.”

“It is consoling that Lord Woolf finds that no academic or other staff member at LSE acted other than in what they perceived to be the best interests of the School,” she continued.

Saif al-Islam began studying at LSE in 2002. He was awarded an MSc in 2003 before entering the college as a PhD student, and the doctorate was awarded in October 2008.

In his report, Woolf said that given the role Saif al-Islam was playing in Libyan affairs, he was given greater assistance than the average student in the pursuit of his PhD, but that it is not for Woolf to determine if this was “improper”:

“Saif received a degree of assistance with his academic work far beyond that which would be available to most students. I emphasise that I reach no conclusions on whether any of the assistance received by Saif was improper or impermissible. I am not qualified to make such judgments and I do not do so.”

However, the University of London, which awarded the PhD to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, investigated allegations he had received improper assistance in the pursuit of his PhD and found that the degree awarded should not be revoked.

It said in a statement that it did not consider his personal background in the investigation, but focused on whether there was any academic impropriety as laid out in the college’s procedures.

Read the Woolf Inquiry’s report on the LSE’s links with Libya in full >

Read: ICC wants Hague judges involved in trial of Gaddafi’s son >

Read: Gaddafi’s son will be tried in Libya, says interim government >

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