The picture of the certificate is courtesy of the Irish Times which reports uncovering, in the Bab al-Azizia compound, the private room of Hana Gaddafi, the Colonel’s adopted daughter who was said to have been killed during the 1986 bombing raid undertaken by US forces. Whether she was adopted before or after that bombing, there is no doubt that Hana Gaddafi exists, and that her existence was known to the British Council in Tripoli, whose certificate she evidently kept in her room, as revealed by Mary FitzGerald in her article.
Hana Gaddafi evidently took her course of private one-to-one tuition at the British Council during the summer of 2007 with her teacher Zubeida Shebani, who was recruited in May that year specifically for that job. Given the close relationship between the British Council and the intelligence services, the British at least would have known that the story of her death in 1986 was false, although they presumably kept this quiet as the press, in the UK and internationally, were still speculating on the subject until a few days ago. As recently as August 12th, the Daily Telegraph ran a piece about a British dentist who is said to have flown to Libya to fix her teeth. The Telegraph header says:
Files stored in a basement room in one of London's most expensive districts could shed new light on one of the greatest mysteries of Muammar Gaddafi's Libya: the alleged death of his baby daughter Hana.
It may have been a mystery to the Telegraph, but it certainly wasn’t to the British Council. Yesterday, Friday 26th August, The Guardian took the story up with the British Council:
This is where the story takes on another twist. A spokesman for the British Council told the Guardian that student records remained locked inside the Tripoli office, which was abandoned by staff in February. However, he added, the former country director for Libya remembered this particular student.
The spokesman said: "We believe that a Hana Gaddafi did study English with the British Council in Libya. At the time we were given the impression that this was Colonel Gaddafi's adopted daughter, who was adopted after the other Hana's death and given the same name as a tribute. Obviously, we have no way of verifying it."
The British Council report is disingenuous. We know that the organisation was giving free places, actually paid for out of the Foreign Office grant, in 2007 to people who were connected to Saif-El-Islam Gaddafi in order better to ingratiate themselves with the man they believed to be the future leader of Libya. Having given multiple “free” (i.e. taxpayer funded) places to people because of their connections, it is a stone cold certainty that the British taxpayer also paid for Hana Gaddafi’s course – in this case involving a specially recruited teacher for private lessons.
We can also see that the British Council was so keen to give her an A Grade that they predicted both her performance and her attendance and awarded the certificate on July 19th 2007, 11 days before she had finished the course (we could probably all have predicted the A grade before she started, and 94% attendance sounds managerially suitable). Given the extended resistance to the FoI requests made by Ian Pennington which eventually uncovered this ill-judged and illegal use of taxpayers’ funds, and given that Tripoli is a war zone, we can hardly expect the Council to fess up now, but that certificate was certainly a present from us to the family of the outgoing ruler of Libya. The proof of that will be established by whoever gets to the 2007 student records first. Sadly we can't expect the Irish Times to do that too.