LONDON – The director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, has
resigned following an emergency meeting of the school’s council on Thursday
night about the disclosure of the school’s financial link to Libya.
the disclosure last month that the school had accepted a £1.5-million donation
from Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al- Islam, pressure has mounted on the
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On Wednesday, LSE announced it was setting up a scholarship
fund for North African students from the £300,000 it had so far received from
the Libyan regime.
The university also revealed on Thursday night that it
had signed a £2.2m. contract with Libya to train the county’s civil service, and
had already received £1.5m. from the total sum.
In the aftermath of the
controversy surrounding the university, it also announced, following the council
meeting, that it will conduct an independent inquiry, led by former Lord Chief
Justice Lord Woolf, into the link with the Gaddafi regime.
will also investigate the alleged plagiarism charge leveled against Seif
Gaddafi, who completed his PhD at LSE in 2008.
In a statement, Davies
said it was “right” for him to step down.
“I have concluded that it would
be right for me to step down, even though I know that this will cause difficulty
for the institution I have come to love; the short point is that I am
responsible for the school’s reputation, and that has suffered,” Davies said. “I
advised the council that it was reasonable to accept the money, and that has
turned out to be a mistake.
“There were risks involved in taking funding
from sources associated with Libya, and they should have been weighed more
heavily in the balance,” he concluded.
“Also, I made a personal error of
judgment in accepting the British Government’s invitation to be an economic
envoy, and the consequent Libyan invitation to advise their sovereign wealth
“There was nothing substantive to be ashamed of in that work and I
disclosed it fully, but the consequence has been to make it more difficult for
me to defend the institution,” he added.
Earlier in the week,
Conservative MP Robert Halfon had called for an investigation into the
university’s link with the Gaddafi regime.
“My grandfather was one of
thousands of Jews who had to leave Libya because of Gaddafi’s appropriation of
Jewish businesses and homes, and he came to this country because of its
democracy. He would have been shocked to have seen not only the close relations
between the last government and Gaddafi, but the acceptance by our distinguished
universities, particularly the LSE, of more than £1m. from Gaddafi,” Halfon told
the prime minister in parliament on Wednesday.
“The government should
establish much stricter guidelines around donations to UK universities, and put
a stop immediately to donations from oppressive Middle Eastern dictatorships
with a terrible record on human rights,” he added.
Davies, a former head
of the Financial Services Authority and deputy governor of the Bank of England,
will remain in his position until a successor has been found.
Halfon and Student Rights, a London-based organization tackling extremism on
campus, called for other LSE Council members to consider their positions in
light of the Davies resignation.
“Just who are the guilty men – and
women? [British sociologist] Antony Giddens, who wrote a paean of praise to
Gaddafi in The Guardian. Prof. David Held, who went out of his way to compliment
the Gaddafi family, and Lord Desai, who is alleged to have supervised Seif
Gadaffi’s PhD,” Halfon said on Friday.
“Most astonishing and
disappointing of all is [director of human rights pressure group Liberty] Shami
Chakrabarti – who was on the LSE Council that agreed to the Gaddafi blood money.
No doubt more of this will emerge in the coming days,” the MP added.
are making a public call for LSE Council members to stand down if they were
involved. It is hypocritical and incongruous for someone like Chakrabarti to
serve as the director of a human rights group while legitimizing murderous
regimes,” said Raheem Kassam, the Student Rights director.