Image: Saif al-Islam Gadhafi
EPA
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi addresses a press conference in Tripoli, Libya, on Feb. 25.
msnbc.com
updated 3/1/2011 10:32:53 AM ET 2011-03-01T15:32:53

A British university is investigating allegations that a PhD thesis written by Moammar Gadhafi's son Saif included material plagiarized from other works.

Saif Gadhafi's PhD, written while he was a student at the London School of Economics, called for greater democracy in global governance and criticized undemocratic governments which were were "authoritarian, abusive and unrepresentative," BBC News reported in September 2009.

However, since the popular revolt against his father broke out in Libya, a "Wiki" page has been set up to examine his research and there have been a number of claims that it is not all his own work.

The London School of Economics, which is part of the University of London, confirmed in a statement it was investigating.

"LSE is aware that there are allegations of plagiarism concerning the PhD thesis of Saif Gadhafi. The School takes all allegations of plagiarism very seriously, and is looking into the matter in accordance with standard LSE procedures," it said.

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'Not a great student'
On Sunday, an LSE professor was quoted as saying there were rumors about the thesis when it was submitted, The Independent on Sunday newspaper reported.

"After he handed in the thesis, there was a rumor that he may not have been the sole author ... I wrote straight away to his supervisor, but there was no substantial evidence," Professor David Held was quoted as saying by the paper.

Held was "an informal advisor" to Gadhafi, describing him as "not a great student" who had improved during his time there, the paper reported.

In 2009, shortly after Saif Gadhafi received his PhD, the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation granted the LSE $2.4 million for its North Africa program.

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In a statement issued Monday, the LSE said the $488,000 of that donation which had been received would be set aside for use by the "wider school community." "In particular, the school is looking into establishing a scholarship fund for Libyan students," the statement said.

An LSE spokesman, who asked not to be named citing the school's normal procedure, told msnbc.com Tuesday that scrutiny of the LSE's links to the Gadhafis following the unrest appeared to have led to people re-examine the PhD.

Accusations similar to those laid out in the Wiki document then surfaced, he said.

"At the moment, we are in the very initial stages of this. The case put to the LSE hasn't been formalized," the spokesman said.

He added anyone found to have substantially plagiarized other people's work in their PhD could be stripped of their doctorate.

'Too idealistic'
Lord Desai, a member of the House of Lords and an economist, was one of two people who questioned Gadhafi about his thesis before recommending that he should be given a PhD.

He told msnbc.com that he and the other examiner had asked Gadhafi to revise his thesis because it was "too idealistic." Gadhafi did so to their satisfaction, Desai said.

"I'm a fairly tough examiner ... we grilled him," he said. "Had he not written it himself, he would not have been able to pass that oral (examination)."

However Desai said there were "a lot of citations in a thesis" and "there may be the odd sentence or something like that," which had not been properly attributed.

He added he was "very disappointed" that Gadhafi was supporting his father's actions in the current crisis, saying he had hoped the thesis was a sign that the regime was planning a transition to democracy.

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