CORRECTION: KEVIN HAYNES IS INCORRECTLY IDENTIFIED AS AN ATTORNEY IN THE HEADLINE. A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST HAS UNCOVERED THAT THE “HEAD OFLEGAL TEAM” CANNOT PRACTICE LAW IN THE UNITED KINGDOM. WHILE THE HEADLINE WAS INCORRECT, THE ARTICLE STANDS AS WRITTEN.
In an unexpected development in the ongoing controversy over Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s1983 PhD thesis, two top officials of the London School of Economics and Political Science have made contradictory statements about the thesis. Tsai triggered an academic firestorm that took on political dimensions during her re-election campaign when she filed her PhD thesis with the LSE Library in June 2019, thirty-five years late.
The tardy thesis has the appearance of a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and hand-written entries including a question mark. At the time of Tsai’s enrollment at LSE the school was unable to award its own PhD degrees and submitted a pass list to the University of London.
President Tsai has refused to name the thesis examiners that passed her for a degree from the University of London. Tsai has bragged about the examiners however, claiming they wanted to give her a double degree for the thesis entitled, “Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions.”
Two Freedom of Information requests, one in 2019 and the second in 2021, to LSE for the identities of the thesis examiners elicited the same answer from Rachael Maguire, Records Manager, that LSE did not have the examiner names. An Internal Review by LSE confirmed the school could not answer the request. School Secretary Louise Nadal stated on May 26, 2021, that “the School does not hold the information you have requested.”
However, what Nadal either did not know or was deceptive about, is that Kevin Haynes, “Head of Legal Team” at LSE, has compiled a 278 page file from President Tsai’s student days that is indexed and carefully numbered.
The revelation that Haynes could cite specific page numbers to a file that Secretary Nadal said did not exist has led to a complaint against LSE to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The language of the ICO complaint tells the rest of the story.
“That the Internal Review is contrary to 19 December 2020 email correspondence by Kevin Haynes, Head of Legal Team, addressed to Kristen Chen at the Republic of China Ministry of Justice, which discloses information from Tsai Ing-wen’s 278 page student file, citing specific page numbers (pp. 74-75) of the record.”
“Exhibit A is a copy of an email exchange of Kristen Chen on 17 December 2020 to Kevin Haynes and his 19 December 2020 response. Exhibit A was received from Taiwan newsman Dennis Peng, who received it from Republic of China prosecutors acting on Tsai Ing-wen’s complaint against Peng, in the discovery phase of his criminal trial for alleged defamation of President Tsai.”
“Kevin Haynes aided a foreign government’s criminal prosecution by disclosure of information that the Internal Review denied LSE possessed. Further, Haynes’ disclosure to ROC prosecutors was done without written consent, warrant or court order.”
“Kevin Haynes’ job description on the LSE website is as follows: “Kevin’s background is in compliance, regulation, complaints and litigation. He is responsible for the School’s Legal Team, which deals with student complaints, litigation and misconduct cases, dispute resolution, contracts and other legal agreements, Data Protection and Freedom of Information, ethics, insurance, Intellectual Property, records management and the School’s relationship with external providers of legal services.”
“Kevin Haynes is Rachael Maguire’s immediate supervisor at the “Legal Team” and knew, or should have known, that both his subordinate Records Manager and the School Secretary, who conducted the Internal Review, were responding to a Freedom of Information request with deceptive and false information.”
“That the Internal Review false statement that LSE did not have the requested information is part of a larger, ongoing, pattern of willful violations of the Freedom of Information Act by school personnel.”
“That the fended off enquiries…ongoing information denials to the public, and the false statement of the Internal Review constitute a pattern of willful and intentional violations of the Freedom of Information Act of almost two years in duration.”
“That said pattern of FOIA violations heightens the legitimate interest of…the public in the verification of qualification of Tsai Ing-wen and makes necessary the disclosure of the examiners’ report for the 16 October 1983 thesis viva examination as the least intrusive method of achieving full transparency in this matter.”
“That said pattern of FOIA violations by LSE requires supervisory, corrective measures by the Information Commissioner beyond ordering the information request be processed.”
There is presently a pending motion to obtain the thesis viva examination report in a Freedom of Information case before the Information Review Tribunal. The ICO has petitioned the court to permit a “closed” submission of evidence delaying resolution of the motion.
The conflicting statements of Louise Nadal and Kevin Haynes, both London School of Economics top officials, now cast the shadow of doubt on the veracity of LSE pronouncements about Tsai Ing-wen, deepening the mystery of the 1983 thesis.