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LSE chief resigns over ‘Libya financial link’
OUR CORRESPONDENT  London | 6th Mar 2011

Sir Howard Davies

he Director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, has dramatically resigned as the elite university faces an inquiry in to its £3.7 million financial links with Libya. Sir Howard said in a statement: " I am responsible for the school's reputation, and that has suffered... There were risks involved in taking funding from sources associated with Libya and they should have been weighed more heavily in the balance."

The university has announced that the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, will now conduct an independent inquiry into the university's connections with the Gaddafi regime.

Amongst other matters, Lord Woolf will investigate claims that Saif Gaddafi's PhD thesis in 2008 had been substantially plagiarised and that he had used a ghostwriter for it. (Gaddafi's thesis had been signed off by Lord [Meghnad] Desai, a Labour peer and emeritus professor of economics at the LSE. Lord Desai has he was "struck by how idealistic" Gaddafi's thesis was. In a letter to The Times, Desai added: "At no stage did the supervisors or anyone else suggest to us that plagiarism was suspected and we found no reason to do so ourselves").

The inquiry will also investigate LSE's acceptance of a £1.5 million donation from Saif Gaddafi's charitable foundation, announced one year after he was awarded his PhD, of which £300,000 has been received, and a £2.2 million contract to train Libyan civil servants and professionals, of which £1.5 million has been received to date.

Shami Chakrabarti, the head of the prestigious human rights group, Liberty, who is also a member of the LSE's ruling council, said that Sir Howard "has been completely straight about his embarrassment. The council has also been completely united in its regret.

As a human rights campaigner, I can only share bucketfuls of both".

The LSE has come under a barrage of criticism for "cosying" up to the Libyan regime. It has emerged that in taking the Libyan funds, the LSE's ruling council ignored the advice of even one of its own Middle Eastern experts, Fred Halliday, who warned in a letter in 2009 that accepting money from Saif Gaddafi would create a "reputational risk". Halliday wrote that Libya had made "no significant progress in protecting the rights of citizens----and remains a country run by a secretive, erratic and corrupt elite".

Meanwhile, the noted historian David Starkey has accused the university of "intellectual corruption", saying "the charges against LSE are huge and disgraceful. LSE frankly sold degrees. There is no doubt about it whatsoever".

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