LSE cuts ties with Libyan state

The London School of Economics has severed links with the Libyan authorities following violence against anti-government protesters that has led to more than 200 deaths.

With civil unrest sweeping across the Arab world, the LSE’s connections with Libya have come under growing scrutiny.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Mu'ammer Gaddafi, who appeared on television this weekend to warn that the streets would run with “rivers of blood” if the protests continued, has a PhD in governance and international relations from LSE.

His links to the institution were cemented in 2009 when he donated £1.5 million to LSE Global Governance – a research centre at the institution – via a charitable foundation.

According to LSE’s website, he also gave a lecture titled “Libya: Past, Present, Future” at the institution in 2009 as part of a series on the future of global capitalism.

In a statement issued today, the LSE says it has “reconsidered” its links with Libya in light of the violence in the country.

It says: “The school has had a number of links with Libya in recent years. In view of the highly distressing news from Libya over the weekend of 19-20 February, the school has reconsidered those links as a matter of urgency.”

It says it has delivered executive education programmes to Libyan officials via LSE Enterprise, but adds that they have finished with no further courses in the offing.

It also says it has received scholarship funding “in respect of advice given to the Libyan Investment Authority in London”, but that no further receipts are expected.

Finally, it says that LSE Global Governance accepted, with the approval of the school’s council, a grant from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, chaired by Saif-al-Islam Gaddafi.

The school says that the money used so far has been spent on “a North African programme of study, principally involving civil society issues”.

“In current difficult circumstances, the school has decided to stop new activities under that programme,” it says, adding that the decision will be kept under review.

It adds that the school “intends to continue its work on democratisation in North Africa funded from other sources unrelated to the Libyan authorities”.

In a statement, the LSE Students’ Union says: “We welcome the school’s decision to take no further funding from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, however, we believe that this does not go far enough.

“The school should take action to ensure that the money that was stolen from the Libyan people for our benefit is now used for the benefit of Libyan people.”

It calls on the institution to “work towards creating a scholarship fund for underprivileged Libyan students using the £300,000 that LSE has already accepted”.

john.gill@tsleducation.com

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