United Kingdom court upholds University of London secrecy over Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen PhD thesis examination

Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis and United Kingdom Information Review Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley who ruled the University of London did not need to identify the examiners who approved the thesis. (credits: Hwan Lin/Dere Street Barristers)

United Kingdom Information Review Tribunal Judge Sophie Buckley, writing for a three-member panel, upheld the University of London’s secrecy about the identity of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis examiners. President Tsai triggered an academic firestorm in the summer of 2019 when she submitted her 1983 PhD thesis to the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years after it was due. Tsai has refused to name the examiners who approved her thesis, as have both the London School of Economics where she studied and the University of London which awarded her a PhD degree.

The thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, submitted to the LSE Library appears to be a draft document with pagination problems, footnote issues, and handwritten notations including a question mark. The thesis was purportedly examined on October 16, 1983, a Sunday.

The thesis problems became a political issue in President Tsai’s reelection campaign and many have taken to social media to question the PhD degree award where the matter continues to be debated.

The three-member Tribunal panel included Dave Silvers and Michael Jones, who heard the case and reached a decision on September 13th. Judge Buckley wrote in the decision released a week later: “We accept that Mr. Richardson has a legitimate private interest and that there is a broader public interest in the legitimacy of President Tsai’s PhD.

“We find that the legitimate interest can be achieved by the University’s confirmation that there is a written record of the names of the examiners and of the date that they signed approval of the thesis, and we find that this interferes less with the privacy of the data subjects than releasing the specific date or the names of the examiner. Accordingly, it is not reasonably necessary for the names or the date to be released.”

“Further, we find that there is sufficient evidence already in the public domain to satisfy Mr. Richardson’s or the public’s concerns about whether or not President Tsai was awarded a PhD, without the need to release this particular information.”

“This includes the fact that the University has publicly confirmed that the degree was correctly awarded and that it holds records of the viva and the pass list in relation to President Tsai and the fact that the thesis appeared in the IALS list of legal theses successfully completed for postgraduate degrees published in 1985. In our view it is not reasonably necessary to also disclose the names of the examiners and the date that they signed approval of the thesis.”

“Having concluded that it is not reasonably necessary to disclose the requested information it is not necessary to consider whether the legitimate interests are overridden by the interests of the data subjects and we find that the University was entitled to rely on the exemption.”

One person with a keen interest in the examiners’ identity is Taiwan newsman Dennis Peng, who faces criminal prosecution for defamation of Tsai for statements he made about the thesis. Tsai also sought prosecution against activist attorney Ho De-fen and Taiwanese-American scholar Hwan Lin. ROC prosecutors declined to press charges against the two although are seeking the imprisonment of Peng.

Although President Tsai’s thesis woes began at the London School of Economics, the University of London kicked the bee hive with the claim its copy of Tsai’s thesis was somehow lost during a thirty-year period of library restructuring. The University has failed to provide bibliographic or acquistion records documenting the receipt of the thesis; such records would be kept separate from the thesis in the event of loss of the shelf copy. The University also apparently failed to make a microfilm copy of the thesis, as was standard protocol at the time.

Under the arcane rules of the Information Review Tribunal, permission of the court must be obtained in order to appeal the decision. One of the primary issues in an appeal application will be the necessity of transparency in the verification of President Tsai’s PhD qualification. The Freedom of Information Act litigation now moves from factual assertions to legal arguments as it advances in the United Kingdom judicial system.

This article has been corrected at the suggestion of a reader.


Author: richardsonreports

Author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two Story.

8 thoughts on “United Kingdom court upholds University of London secrecy over Republic of China President Tsai Ing-wen PhD thesis examination”

  1. Even thought the court ruled that the uol did not “need” to identify the names of the examiners, the plaintiff still can ask the uol to identify the “existence” of the examiners to the judge who is supposed to be trustworthy in maintaining the secrecy of the uol. It would be a disgrace to a prestigious school like the uol if they are not willing to reveal this
    minimum information to the court, period.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michael:

    Yes, I did post this on my facebook again. It is a repeat of the previous one! Regards, CK

    On Tue, Sep 21, 2021 at 4:19 PM Richardson Reports wrote:

    > richardsonreports posted: ” Republic of China in-exile President Tsai > Ing-wen’s PhD thesis and United Kingdom Information Review Tribunal Judge > Sophie Buckley who ruled the University of London did not need to identify > the examiners who approved the thesis. (credits: Hwan Lin/Dere ” >


  3. Thank you Michael. Yes this is disgraceful that they continue to uphold the veil of secrecy. WHY? Sadly, appears to be another case of academia going ‘to the dogs’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Michael,

    This is the darkest day of academic history. Since the University of London agreed that they did award (note: they did not use the word confer) her the doctoral degree, we can hardly do anything except to accept it. It is a private University and they have all the right to ‘award’ the degree. They are risking their academic integrity for the sake of having a prominent figure in the alumni. I strongly believe that most intellectuals will be able to differentiate real facts and ‘manipulated facts’. No doubt it was the University’s call, it is also any potential student’s call. In due course, this incident may dissuade anyone from the mainland China and other parts of the world from pursuing any academic qualifications in both the LSE and University of London.

    My main disappointment is that the court seemed to ignore all the critical evidence gathered. They seemed to fail to understand that by doing so, they may land an innocent in the prison. Court should be a place where true justice is upheld, instead of condoning frauds due to political considerations.


    Dr Kelvin Chua, MBA

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The University of London did not go so far as you suggested. Actually, it has not made any move yet by my understanding from closely following Dennis Peng’s programs. The so-called confirmation of the degree awarded came from a web “announcement” in an unofficial channel identified to belong to a paid operative (F. Shih) of Tsai in the University of London. The University has kept a distance from this “announcement”, by neither acknowledging nor denying its validity, thus allowing itself maximal wiggle room should push comes to shove.
      The position taken by the media in the Anglo-American sphere was clearly revealed in another incident involving this “announcement”. In 2019 the New York Times sent a reporter, Raymond Zhong, to Taiwan to report on the presidential election, with the ulterior motive to boost Tsai’s standing. To fake impartiality, Zhong also gave Peng an interview. Knowing Peng’s distaste for Shih and her chicaneries in London, I would be very surprised if the dubious nature of this “announcement” were not the first thing brought up by him in the interview. But when Zhong wrote up his report, this was what finally showed in New York Times. Feel the tone of it for your self.

      “….One line of attack against Ms. Tsai has added to the atmosphere of mistrust and high conspiracy ahead of this week’s vote.
      Politicians and media outlets have questioned whether Ms. Tsai’s doctoral dissertation is authentic, even though her alma mater, the London School of Economics, has confirmed that it is (web link to Shih’s “announcement included here).
      Dennis Peng hosts a daily YouTube show dedicated to proving otherwise. His channel has 173,000 subscribers. Theories about Ms. Tsai’s dissertation have circulated in China, too, with the help of the Chinese news media…..”

      So Peng was sold out by Zhong, who made a fool of Peng by presenting Shih’s “announcement” as an official, incontrovertible, authoritative document, despite Peng’s warnings, and indirectly labeled Peng a liar, and one helped along by China at that!

      There is a massive, concerted effort in the Anglo-American world, to the highest levels, to prop up Tsai as a poster child against China. She can do no wrong. She can get away with murder. Actually, she IS getting with all kinds of political abuses in Taiwan right now with no consequence. Last year, Peng also naively started a web based petition to urge the White House to look into Tsai’s frauds. How naive! The White House was obliged to take action if the total number of signers of the petition reached 100K. It was almost comical to watch Peng’s daily petition drive on the show, and despite overwhelming responses from all over the world, the total number always fell short, sometimes with missing votes noticed. Peng was perplexed. I couldn’t help admiring his naïveté and blind optimism.

      Peng, Richardson, and their company are facing an incredible uphill battle. Given this, the University of London does not need to enter the fray itself. The fight will never go so far as touching the university. All it needs to do is “nothing”.


  5. Michael Richardson is an angel sent by God, Big Thanks from Taiwan.
    The fake President Tsai Ing-wen is really a catastrophe of Taiwan.
    Thank you for your great efforts.


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