LSE investigates Saif Gaddafi plagiarism claims

Saif Gaddafi

Son of Gaddafi submitted PhD calling for more democratic institutions, but was it all his work?

BY Eliot Sefton LAST UPDATED AT 14:03 ON Tue 1 Mar 2011

The London School of Economics is investigating whether Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, plagiarised other people's work in his doctoral thesis.

Saif was awarded a PhD in 2008 by the LSE's Centre for the Study of Global Governance. A year later he made a donation of £1.5m to the university via the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.

Saif's thesis is entitled: "The role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions: from 'soft power' to collective decision-making?" In it he analyses "the problems involved in creating global governing institutions that are more just and more democratic".

He also identifies the central failing of the current system of global governance "that it is highly undemocratic".

The investigation is yet another blow to the image the 38-year-old Saif had cultivated for himself as a progressive who would one day oversee a peaceful transition to democracy in Libya.

His wealth, influence and intelligence have seen him enjoying the hospitality of the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the Rothschilds at their holiday home in Corfu.

The façade of sophistication was shattered a week ago when he appeared on Libyan state TV to blame drug-crazed Islamists and the oft-cited 'foreign agents' for the wave of protests in his country. Although dressed in a sharp Western-style suit, his militant, finger-wagging performance was deemed worthy of his father.

Since then, activists have pored over Saif's thesis in an attempt to find evidence of plagiarism and discredit him further. The online collaboration has so far unearthed 17 examples of what the activists believe may be plagiarism.

The LSE told the Times: "We are aware of the allegations which are in the public domain about possible plagiarism in Saif Gaddafi's PhD thesis. We have also received direct allegations, and are seeking more specific information in a couple of cases. We are also carrying out our own checks."

When Saif first presented his thesis for examination, there were accusations that he had used a ghostwriter. However, his adviser at LSE, Professor David Held, said there was "no substantial evidence" that this was the case.

The Labour peer Lord Desai, who conducted Saif's viva - an interview in which a student has to defend his thesis - said there was "no reason to think [Saif] didn't do it himself". · 

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