Probe into LSE Libya link ordered
The head of the London School of Economics (LSE) has denied that its academic independence had been compromised by accepting donations linked to Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime.
Sir Howard Davies announced on Thursday night that he was resigning as the university's director after accepting that its reputation had been damaged by a decision to accept £300,000 in research funding from a foundation controlled by the dictator's son Saif.
An investigation into the LSE's links with Libya is being carried out by former lord chief justice Lord Woolf, who will look in particular at its ties to Saif Gaddafi, who studied for an MSc and PhD there. There are claims he plagiarised his PhD thesis, which was awarded in 2008, using a ghost writer and copying parts of it from other material.
A key part of the inquiry will be the financial links between LSE and Libya. Lord Woolf is also expected to investigate the acceptance of a £1.5 million donation from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) in 2009, £300,000 of which has been received so far.
Sir Howard said that half of the money received has been spent on research related to North Africa and the development of democracy and civil society there, with the rest now being put into a scholarship fund.
A further £2.2 million contract was also set up between LSE and Libya's Economic Development Board, and £1.5 million has been received for the training of Libyan civil servants and professionals. Out of the contract, £20,000 has also been paid out for the tuition of the head of the Libyan Investment Authority.
Sir Howard admitted he had made a "personal error of judgement" in travelling to Libya to advise the regime on how to modernise its financial institutions.
But he insisted that the LSE's academic independence had not been undermined by its acceptance of the Gaddafi grant or other large foreign donations to fund its research work.
"That's been a matter of great concern to me during my eight years at the school and I believe we have not sacrificed that independence," he told the BBC. "In each case we have been absolutely scrupulous to ensure that there was no control over the research agenda by the people making the donations. That was true of the Gaddafi donation as well."
Sir Howard said he originally offered his resignation on Sunday but he had been asked to withdraw it. He finally concluded that he needed to step down for the sake of the university.