Tony Blair helped Saif al-Islam Gadaffi, the son of the ousted Libyan dictator, with his controversial PhD thesis, according to documents found at the ransacked British embassy in Tripoli.
In a copy of a signed letter from Blair to “Engineer Saif”, the former Labour prime minister thanks Gadaffi for outlining his “interesting” thesis for the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and responds with his “warm good wishes”.
Replying to the correspondence from Gadaffi, Blair cites three examples of the power of greater collaboration between government, civil society and business “that might help you with your studies”.
The PhD has since become mired in allegations of plagiarism. A year after being awarded it in 2008, the despot’s son donated £1.5m to the LSE — one of a string of payments from Libya being investigated by the university.
When writing his 429-page thesis, The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions, Gadaffi sought to portray himself as a modern reformer who would succeed his brutal father.
However, any veneer of respectability quickly slipped away with the onset of the Libyan uprising.
Gadaffi, 39, warned that the country’s streets would run with “rivers of blood” and promised: “We will keep fighting until the last man.”
In Blair’s letter to Gadaffi dated March 5, 2007, the former prime minister extols the changes in Africa brought about by the Make Poverty History campaign.
“The reason this campaign had so much influence was that it brought together an unusual coalition of players from Bono to the Pope, reaching into the homes of people all around the world with a simple but inspiring message of hope,” writes Blair.
He tells Gadaffi they must work together to create “progressive coalitions for change that fight as hard on global poverty and climate change as we do on security and terror”. He signed off:
“I wish you well with your PhD and send my warm good wishes.”
It is claimed Gadaffi used Libyan academics as ghostwriters for his work and that large sections were plagiarised. One academic was reportedly rewarded with a Libyan ambassadorial posting.
A spokesman for Blair said: “A letter to Saif Gadaffi was drafted by officials giving international examples of good practice in civil society, which was sent in the prime minister’s name. It was perfectly proper to do so.”