David Held, who is currently Graham Wallas professor of political science at the LSE, has announced that he is leaving in January to take up a post at Durham University.
But he is leaving one step ahead of the reports on Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s funding of research at the LSE. and one on charges of plagiarism in his PhD thesis.
According to the Guardian, Held said in a statement “I will be taking up the positions of master of University College and chair of politics and international relations at the University of Durham from January. This move is being made for academic reasons and I look forward to the new avenues of research that this role will bring. I have many links to LSE which will be maintained in the years ahead.”
But Held who had very close links to
Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has left the London School of Economics before a report on the university’s relationship with Libya is published. . (He) was an academic adviser to the toppled dictator’s son when he studied at the LSE and was director of the research programme funded by his charity.
The LSE is expected to face sharp criticism over the academic independence of the North Africa Research Programme, which was funded with a £1.5m donation from the Gaddafi charitable foundation, and Held’s departure is regarded internally as the latest aftershock from the donation. The LSE’s links with Libya have already triggered the resignation of its director, Howard Davies.
Held has extensive ties to Saif al-Islam, now on the run after the violent collapse of his father’s dictatorship. Held was on the board of the Gaddafi foundation, the charity run by Saif al-Islam.
He was appointed to the board of the charity on 28 June 2009, a few days after the gift was discussed and accepted by the LSE council, the university’s governing body. He subsequently resigned from the charity on the LSE council’s advice.
The donation – of which £300,000 was received – was paid to a research centre LSE Global Governance, of which Held was co-director. Saif al-Islam was allowed to lay out “objectives and expectations” for the programme, according to leaked LSE documents.
Lord Woolf, a former lord chief justice, has completed an independent inquiry into the university’s Libyan links. Its publication has been delayed pending the results of a separate inquiry into allegations of plagiarism in Saif al-Islam’s PhD thesis. …
An LSE insider said that he expected the Woolf inquiry report to criticise the “close consultations” between LSE scholars and the Gaddafi regime. The funding was accepted despite internal protest. Fred Halliday, a distinguished Middle East expert at the LSE, criticised the donation in a letter that described the country’s rulers as a “secretive, erratic and corrupt elite”.
The Durham University students paper – Palatinate Online – writes:
Former LSE academic David Held, who held close ties with Saif-al-Islam Gaddafi, has been announced as the new Master of Castle. … Professor Graham Towl, Deputy Warden of Durham University, said: “We are delighted to have appointed Professor David Held as Master of University College. Professor Held was selected from a very strong field of candidates from across the world following a rigorous interview process and is joining Durham from another leading institution, the LSE. He has a particular passion for education at undergraduate and postgraduate level and also brings both entrepreneurial experience, for example in modern academic publishing, and a wealth of management skills which will prove invaluable in his role as Master”. …
Durham are probably being very foolhardy (and it could not be called brave) or very stupid. “Management skills” with questionable judgement is a contradiction in terms. And his somewhat specialised “entrepreneurial experience” may well have been honed in advising Saif al-Islam’s charity on how to fund actions without accountability. I think Durham University which probably thinks that any publicity will be good publicity, may come to regret their decision. If I was a PhD student I am not sure I would like having such a supervisor so heavily tainted by Saif al-Islam.
However, Castle Senior Man Christopher Winterhoff was critical of how students were consulted on the issue. He said: “There is a general dissatisfaction, not just at Castle but throughout other colleges, as to how the University communicates with its students and their representatives concerning matters such as (but not limited to) the appointment of Heads of College. On my request concerning any information regarding the selection process or the current stage of the selection, I was greeted with a short and inconclusive answer. It seems as though the students who are the main stakeholders in the appointment of the Head of College position are being ignored in the process.”