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Robert Halfon MP: My Grandfather, Libya and the LSE Blood Money

By Robert Halfon MP

Events in Libya hold special meaning for our family, as my late grandfather (an Italian Tripolitanian Jew), was one of the many thousands of Jews in Libya who had their property confiscated and businesses appropriated by the Gadaffi regime.

My grandfather left Libya for Italy, and later came to England. He had always loved Great Britain - he sold the British Army clothes during the war and said that the British were the only ones who paid on time.  Great Britain was a place of decency, tolerance and beauty.  Many other Jewish refugees from the Gadaffi regime went to Italy as Libya had been colonised by the Italians - until after the second World War.  Others fleeing the regime went to Israel.

Given what he - and thousands of others experienced - I think my grandfather would have been surprised that Gadaffi has remained in power for so long.  He would have been disgusted at the recent years of Foreign Office/Labour Government appeasement of the Libyan dictatorship, the close commercial relations that were established and the craven release of Al-Megrahi.

But, most of all, given his deep attachment to England, he would have never expected that in 2009, one of the most famous and prestigious British universities - the London School of Economics (LSE), would take £1.5 million in "blood money" from Gadaffi’s son in order to fund a "North African Research Centre".  It certainly is hard to believe that the LSE thought it a good idea to take money from mass murderers.  Just because the money came from the so-called Gadaffi "International Charity and Development Foundation" (chaired by his son, Seif Al-Islam), does not make it any cleaner.

What this university has done - in taking this money - is a disgrace to common decency - especially after Lockerbie.

The LSE should give the money back to support those innocents in Libya, murdered and maimed in recent days.  Whoever was responsible for taking this money should apologise to all the victims of the Libyan dictatorship - and then resign.


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