David Held, currently the professor of Political Science and co-director of the Global Governance Centre at the London School of Economics, is confirmed to be the new Master of University College and the Chair of Politics and International Relations at the University of Durham from January. However, controversy is remains over his decision to leave.
According to The Guardian, this British academic had a very close relationship with Saif al-Islam (the son of the deposed Libya leader and a LSE PhD student in politics). As an academic advisor of this dictator’s son, Held once highly commended him as “someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.” This relationship iss under attack as a series of scandals were disclosed relating to £1.5m of funding received by the university.
This donation was made by Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GIDF), after Saif had received his doctorate from LSE in 2008. As the name indicates, it is an NGO run by the former leader. Professor David Held had argued in favour of the funding; the Centre for the Study of Global Governance under his management had also been granted £300,000. A few days later, Held was appointed trustee of GDIF, though he was forced to resign a few months later due to the pressure from the LSE council about the potential conflicts of interest.
In response to these scandals, LSE has commissioned Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice to conduct an independent inquiry relating to Saif al-Islam’s doctorate qualification and the £1.5m donation to the university. It turned out that another £2.2m contract was signed by LSE in agreement to train Libya’s civil servants. These close links with the Libya regimes have resulted in the resignation by Howard Davis, the university director. This October, Held had announced his decision to leave LSE one step ahead of the Woolf inquiry report being published, though he claimed such a move was made for academic reasons.
A hearty welcome was made by Professor Graham Towl, the Deputy Warden of Durham University, who said that the selection of the candidates was preceded by authentic deliberation after a range of rigorous interviews.