Coffee House

Woolf tucks into perfidious Albion

1 December 2011

6:02 PM

1 December 2011

6:02 PM

Yesterday night’s news that a senior FCO official lobbied Oxford University on behalf of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi adds more
ordure to the already fetid story of Britain’s role in Colonel Gaddafi’s rehabilitation. The Woolf Inquiry into Saif’s dealings with British universities and businesses found
that, ‘It was made clear [to Oxford] … that the FCO would appreciate help in this case since Libya was opening up to the West again.’  Oxford resisted; but this episode has hardly
covered Britain’s elites in glory: the civil service, BAE and august universities are all criticised in Woolf’s report.

Murmurs of disquiet about the Labour Party’s relationship with the Gaddafi clan continue to sound in certain quarters — the legacy of those awkward pictures and forced smiles in the
Colonel’s tent, to say nothing of cosy shooting parties and the Lockerbie bomber’s release. New questions were also raised by the Sunday Times last week when it revealed that former Labour defence minister Adam Ingram made a substantial donation to the Gaddafi International Charity and
Development Foundation.

The party political dimension is diverting but largely irrelevant: the 2010 election result did not alter Britain’s Libyan policy.
Indeed, the FCO continued to boast of very close ties with the Gaddafi regime, and joint trade fairs were planned deep into 2011. The accompanying  blurbs for these
jamborees are blackly comic in hindsight, describing Libya’s polite and commercial future under an enlightened dictatorship. Essentially, it was business as usual for this government
until Gaddafi turned on his own people — so much for ‘moral

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Show comments
  • In2minds

    What’s up with posting on the article below, all those gaps?

  • Frankie Heywood

    many UK universities have been franchising courses and doing deals with un-democratic, war-torn and conflict ridden countries for years. If there’s money in it, they’ll do it. However, I’m glad there is uproar about the LSE. Prof David Held and Tony Blair’s sociologist pal Prof Anthony Giddens (an architect of the much vaunted ‘third way’) should hang their heads in shame. Whatever next, the Robert Mugabe Chair of International Peace Studies?

  • TomTom

    “Not sure why MI6 would be pulling strings re the Gaddafis”

    You must live in a Skinner Box. The BP executive who handled matters for Lord Browne at Blair Petroleum, Sir Mark Allen, was an MI6 Officer

  • Greg

    What? Our FCO lobbying on behalf of shady Arabs? Whatever next?

  • David Blackburn

    Baronness Helena Kennedy Handcart QC,

    I’ve corrected the mistake, thanks for pointing it out.

  • PayDirt

    Not sure why MI6 would be pulling strings re the Gaddafis. I thought the deal was that Gaddafi renounced his WMD programme and that would lead to a normalisation of relations. The Mehrani release stinks of course. There should be no reason for backhanders to the Gaddafi clan. Any shady deals need to be brought to light.

  • Maddy1

    @adrian drummond
    Cook was too busy getting arms to West Africa in breach of the UN to worry about trivia like this! We have always had the progeny of dictators in our schools. They have even got one Brat from North Korea in an International in Europe somewhere. Remember covering Cook with his floosy on the Queen’s Brunei tour, Cook seemed at home in Lilliput, a Swiftonian all the way!

  • Malfleur

    I agree with strapworld (and cato); this is absolutely outrageous: time for names – and pack-drill.

  • Baroness Helena Handcart QC

    Adam Ingram, not Andy. Raise your game.

  • TomTom

    LSE is a Limited Company and has to answer to its Shareholders. Howard Davies is a former Civil Servant from the FCO so he knows the score when MI6 comes knocking…

  • Cato

    Sorry, on this one it is no good blaming one political party or the other–the FCO has been the UK’s in-house lobbyist for Arab dictators for many, many, years.

  • Mirtha Tidville

    And it all falls at the door of one Anthony Bliar….what the hell did this country do wrong to wind up with a cheat and charlatan like him?..

  • strapworld

    All this should be handed to a Judge enquire into, under oath. It is about time these people who operate behind the scenes and with impunity are brought out into the open to give answers. Who ordered them, why they did it etc. Politicians and civil servants obviously believe they are above the law. Time for the truth to be told on this very dirty scandal.

  • adrian drummond

    I wonder what the late Robin Cook would have made of all this?

  • Axstane

    The international arms trade has always been one where corners were cut as to the niceties. BAE are simply a member of that industry and probably no worse in their ethics than any of the others.

    The LSE has, as far back as I can remember, an institution with a decidely shaky foundation in ethics and often guilty of preaching near sedition. When I was young it was regarded as a Red College.

    The last Labour government, especially Blair and the Milibands almost fell in love with the Gaddafis who no doubt regarded them as useful fools.