Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

LSE insider claims Gaddafi donation was ‘openly joked about’

Leading figures at the London School of Economics (LSE) openly joked about getting a donation from Saif Gaddafi before he had even been examined for his PhD, claimed a senior source at the LSE last night.

"Pro-directors" at the school, professors just one rung below the former director Sir Howard Davies, who resigned last month over the scandal prompted by the university's links to Libya, were "anticipating the solicitation of a donation". The academic, speaking to the IoS under condition of anonymity, added: "At really top levels of the school people were joking and very aware he was going to be examined for his PhD and thinking ahead to what that could mean."

This news comes as an inquiry into the university's links with Libya, which have resulted in it being dubbed the "Libyan School of Economics", has been launched by Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice, at the request of the LSE. It will look at the circumstances in which Saif Gaddafi was awarded a doctorate in 2008, and the LSE's acceptance of a £1.5m donation from his foundation the following year.

The resulting controversy, reignited by the brutal response of the Gaddafi regime to the Libyan uprising, led to the resignation of Sir Howard, after further revelations that the LSE had also benefited from a £2.2m contract with Libya to train its civil servants. The LSE's council is also mounting an investigation into its Centre for the Study of Global Governance, whose co-director, Professor David Held, was Saif Gaddafi's unofficial adviser. He had recommended that the LSE accept the £1.5m grant from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) for his centre, and became a trustee of the GICDF in June 2009. He was forced to quit the foundation several months later by the LSE's council over concerns of a potential conflict of interest. Professor Held denies any impropriety.

Meanwhile, amid continued allegations of plagiarism by Saif Gaddafi, his formal PhD supervisor, Professor Nancy Cartwright, admitted that she could not be entirely confident that he didn't have help with his thesis.

"I can hardly be confident that nobody else helped him since there's evidence that he lifted bits, but I'm confident that it isn't in the sense done by anybody else start to finish," she said.