Ex-LSE chief accepts Gaddafi report

 

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The former director of the London School of Economics said today that he accepted the findings of a damning report over its links to the Gaddafi regime while he was at the helm.

Sir Howard Davies resigned in March over a £1.5 million donation to the school from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF), led by Saif al-Islam. The dictator's son studied at the school from 2002 until 2008, gaining a doctorate.

A comprehensive report by Lord Woolf into the scandal, published yesterday, found "the links which the LSE developed with Libya have clearly brought to light shortcomings in communication and governance within the LSE".

Asked if he accepted the damning findings, Sir Howard, who also visited Libya to advise its regime about financial reforms, said: "I do. I did at the time."

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "In March I concluded that, while there had been arguments for accepting money from Saif Gaddafi, who appeared to be a reformer, that in fact I gave the council the wrong advice, really - that we should go ahead with it - and, really, it would have been better to have not done it.

"That was my conclusion, that although there were collective decisions, that I was personally responsible for giving the council advice and should take the consequences, which I did.

"I hope now, after this report, the LSE, which is a fine institution, can move on. In other respects its reputation in research, teaching and its financial position are as good as they have ever been.

"So I hope it moves forward well, but sadly without me."

The inquiry set out a number of failings, but criticised the school's management and the lack of an all-embracing code of ethics.

Lord Woolf's report said: "Mistakes and errors of judgment were made and they contributed to the damage caused to the LSE's reputation.

"Some were individual errors that no system can prevent from occurring from time to time.

"Here, however, the mistakes and errors of judgment go beyond those that could be expected from an institute of the LSE's distinction."

Of the donation, Lord Woolf found: "If what the LSE was told by Saif about the source of the donation is taken at face value, the due diligence obtained on the gift should have raised real concerns.

"On the available information, the source of the donation could have been payments made to gain Saif's favour."

Al-Islam's PhD was shrouded in controversy before the donation scandal, even prompting the British ambassador to the US to deny claims that he helped the dictator's son with his thesis.

At the time the Foreign Office confirmed that Sir Nigel Sheinwald met him during his time at the LSE but said he did not play any part in the writing of his thesis.

 

PA

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