“the stuff of Shakespeare and of Freud”

The LSE has been quick to distance itself from Saif, issuing a statement in which it said the university had had a number of links with Libya, but that “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”.

Although the LSE had accepted £1.5m from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, an organisation headed by Saif – some of which was to finance “a virtual democracy centre” – the university stressed that it was to be paid over five years, and only £300,000 has been received to date. “In current difficult circumstances across the region, the school has decided to stop new activities under that programme,” the statement said. The LSE has also received scholarship funding in return for advice given to the Libyan Investment Authority in London. “No further receipts are anticipated,” the university said.

Professor David Held, an academic advisor to Saif Gaddafi during his four years at the LSE, said: “Watching Saif give that speech – looking so exhausted, nervous and, frankly, terrible – was the stuff of Shakespeare and of Freud: a young man torn by a struggle between loyalty to his father and his family, and the beliefs he had come to hold for reform, democracy and the rule of law. The man giving that speech wasn’t the Saif I had got to know well over those years.”

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