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Ian

I would like to be able say that it was gratifying to see my attempts to get the British Council to admit to using taxpayers' money to pay for well connected Libyans' English lessons was once more of interest but reading the news, with reports of 200 dead, makes me wish it had never come to this.

Apart from trying to get the British Council to admit they were using taxpayers' money to pay for these freebies for rich Libyans, I wanted to know why this was happening. The most I could get out of them was that it was for "relationship building". I tried to ask exactly what they meant by "relationship building". Needless to say I never got a satisfactory answer. Now, perhaps, I know.

This morning, in the Observer, I read that the current UK Government is trying to extricate itself from its dubious relationship with Libya - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/19/britain-alliance-libya-gaddafi-crackdown

The article describes how Tony Blair sucked up to Muammar Gaddafi; how Gaddafi had joined Britain in the fight against terror - yes, he who terrorises his own people; how this was in the interests of furthering the UK's commercial interests - particularly oil but also arms which are, no doubt, even as I write being used to suppress the protestors.

It would seem likely that this "relationship building" the British Council was so keen on has helped provide the finance - and arms - so useful to Gaddafi in his attempts to put down the protests.

It would be naive of me to hope that the British Council were capable of reflecting on the fact that they may have played a small part, however indirect, in spilling the blood of protesting Libyans.

Ian

I find this bit particularly annoying: "the main point is that the student in question was legitimately and transparently sponsored to help build relations with the Gaddafi Foundation".

The fact is that the British Council would not tell me about this student - yes, the one described as "the son of one of the British Council’s most important contacts in Libya - the Executive Head of the Gaddafi Development Foundation and one of the right-hand men of Saif El Islam Gaddafi, the possible future leader of Libya" until I told them that I knew the information they had provided me was incomplete. Even then they said they could "categorically state that there are no student sponsored places that do not fit into the categories described in our original response". It wasn't until I told them exactly where to look that they somehow "found" this student.

Whether they can claim that the sponsoring of that student was legitimate is moot, but it certainly wasn't transparent.

It was around this time that I decided a complaint to the Information Commissioner was in order. This, together with other complaints because of the British Council's refusal to answer additional questions, including some regarding IELTS, took 3 years to resolve and resulted in three Decision Notices against the British Council. While pretty much a whitewash, these do uphold the majority of my complaints. Any reader bored enough to check them out can find them at: http://www.ico.gov.uk/tools_and_resources/decision_notices.aspx - Select "British Council" under Authority.

One line in Decision Notice FS50163207, para 38 gives the lie to the statement that the students were "transparently sponsored" and that is: "The Commissioner is satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the British Council did not hold records justifying individual student sponsorship in Libya the time of the request".

How can this student have been "transparently sponsored to help build relations with the Gaddafi Foundation" if those records were not being kept? I certainly didn't get this level of information about the other students that were sponsored. I had also been told by another manager in the British Council that information justifying these sponsorships was, indeed, being kept.

Something smelled very bad then and even worse now.

David

Thank you for those comments, Ian. In the context of death and destruction issues relating to the integrity of the British Council's commercial operations are of minor importance, but it is worth reminding readers that even after Ian had uncovered this skullduggery, Lord Kinnock and Martin Davidson gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee to the effect that what had happened was impossible. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmpubacc/814/814.pdf

Mr Davidson: ... we ensure through a clear firewall, that there is no
subsidy of our teaching or other operations from the grant.


Mr Davidson: … As I said, because of the competition issues we make absolutely certain there is no subsidy from the grant into the teaching operation; and that is a fixed position for us.


http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmfaff/195/8101503.htm
Lord Kinnock: There is an absolute auditing and accountancy ring fence. It is impenetrable. We are never in any danger of cross-subsidising in a way that gives us an unfair advantage.

David

Story emerging from Tripoli that Gaddafi has left the country...

Ian

And now we see that the man the British Council were "building relationships" with, "Saif El Islam Gaddafi, the possible future leader of Libya", is supporting his father's use of violence.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/20/libya-defiant-protesters-feared-dead

Now we know the type of person that charitable organisation, the British Council, is building relationships with.

Paul

After working for the BC for 20+ years, I can confirm what has long been suspected, that the Council is in it for the money.

The senior mgmt in the organisation worshipped at the feet of HMG Blair. i'm sure what is being reported here is just the tip of the iceberg.

Neil Robertson

"Saif Gaddafi's indictment for committing atrocities against civilians will profoundly embarrass the wealthy and influential circle of friends he cultivated over eight years studying at the London School of Economics and living a playboy's life in Hampstead. According to prosecution documents, his image in the west as a moderniser and reformer, often at odds with his autocratic father, was a carefully crafted sham" ('Court accuses Gaddafis of war crimes: [International Criminal Court] Prosecutor sets precedent by indicting son with links to west, says expert" Julian Borger, Diplomatic Editor, The Guardian (Thursday 17 May 2011))

David

Thank you for that. Yes, a "carefully crafted sham" which we all of us financed and supported thanks to you know who.

Emmanuel Adeyemi

Please when did the British Council first got to Libya for thier services and when did it re-entered Libya after the Locerbie issue?

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