“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Stable Door And The London School of Economics

with 6 comments

Weeks after the horse bolted, those connected to the Libyan regime are slowly trying to sever their connections:

“A Nobel prize-winning British scientist has resigned from the charity run by Muammar Gaddafi’s son that gave a £1.5m donation to the London School of Economics, and disclosed that the funding was awarded without the approval of board members.

The elite British university has been in turmoil over the donation, which last week led to the resignation of its director, Sir Howard Davies, and the launch of an independent inquiry into its links with Libya. Sir Richard Roberts, who was on the board of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, said the funding was given to the LSE without “any form of transparency or approval”.

The revelation underlines concerns that the Gaddafi foundation did not operate as a normal charity but was a vehicle for the Libyan dictator’s son Saif al-Islam.

The LSE council, its governing body, is facing scrutiny over its decision to approve the donation, granted in 2009. One of the LSE’s academics stood down from the board of the Gaddafi foundation in 2009 after a council meeting raised concern over a conflict of interests.

Roberts, an internationally renowned biochemist who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 1993, told the Guardian: “I never knew anything about that money before it appeared in the press. That was not done with any sort of clarity or transparency to the board.” “

Or does it all suggest that some of these supposedly smart people are not that smart at all, when it comes to rich dictators?

Over at the Beeb, they cover the Libyan Investment Authority with a choice quote:

“Like the rest of Gaddafi’s children, Saif lived a life of privilege and ease, although like his father he claimed to have no official position and denied having access large funds.

But now new evidence has emerged that despite his denials, Saif in fact controlled the multi-billion-pound Libyan sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).

“I’ve seen the Godfather. This is the closest thing in real life,” commented a Libyan investment banker familiar with how the LIA was run.

“It is as if it is his own private farm. This was almost like a mafia operatiion.”

In the letters page of the Guardian there is an academic bun-fight on plagiarism, Saif Gaddafi and how to use Google:

“Lord Desai seems to be aggrieved because nobody told him as the PhD examiner of Saif Gaddafi that the candidate had committed plagiarism. But it is precisely the job of the examiner, as an expert in the field, to assess the originality of a doctoral thesis. So neither Desai, nor his co-examiner, nor Mr Gaddafi’s supervisors, did their jobs. Have none of them heard of Google? It’s not too hard these days to catch out the plagiariser.”

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I thought Jonathan Sawday was just a little unfair in his letter (which you link to). Desai’s complaint was based on the fact that some at the LSE knew the PhD was plagiarised. That seems a fair comment. One would hope an examiner would spot plagiarism from a well known text on the topic, or if the student clearly did not understand what s/he had supposedly written, but one might not spot, for example, chunks taken from another unpublished thesis.

    Sarah AB

    08/03/2011 at 05:56

  2. One of Desai’s complaints is that, but isn’t it a strawman?

    Surely, a highly educated academic doesn’t need to be told the obvious? That plagiarism is possible and that a serious effort should be made to analyse the text?

    I believe there are numerous academic databases and specialist tools for this, failing that, surely the external examiners should have used Google?

    It ain’t hard, but then again I am not an academic.


    08/03/2011 at 15:08

  3. It has never been something I’ve had at the forefront of my mind when examining a PhD. That’s because students work closely with their supervisors and there is an expectation that a supervisor would be aware if something funny was going on, and that the supervisor sees the thesis as it grows and develops, usually several evolving drafts. I think what makes one most suspicious that plagiarism may be present is exceptionally sophisticated writing, particularly if combined with far less fluent patches. But PhDs are more likely to be very well written and sophisticated, so this wouldn’t ring alarm bells at that level.

    Sarah AB

    09/03/2011 at 07:48

  4. Well it seems to me, that *if* Saif Gaddafi worked closely with his supervisors and it is proven that chunks of his thesis were stolen, it would be their fault, naivety is not an excuse.

    All of this might be exceptional, but that does not excuse it, the job of external examiners is to check and clearly Desai and co, did not do their job sufficiently.

    You either do your job well (and make allowances for exceptions) or you don’t.

    I believe that Germany’s foreign minister has similar problems.


    09/03/2011 at 11:10

  5. […] jr. doled out money left, right and centre and in the process gained a degree of respectability and the compliance of Western academics, most noticeably the […]

  6. […] is the minutes of a meeting at the London School of Economics which discussed taking money from Gaddafi’s Libya. A copy of this is on the web, I put it here as a matter of public […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: