Information Review Tribunal judge rejects University of London claim President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis was lost by library

Information Review Tribunal Judge Hazel Oliver and Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis that the University of London claims was lost by librarians. (credits: Lewis Silkin/Hwan Lin)

Information Review Tribunal Judge Hazel Oliver has rejected the dog-ate-my-homework story of the University of London that the PhD thesis of Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen was lost-in-the-library. Although Judge Oliver upheld a secrecy shield about the qualification viva examination of the thesis as Tsai’s personal data the University’s claim that librarians lost the thesis was disregarded.

“The appellant says that the absence of the original thesis from any of the libraries, as required by the University’s rules, indicates that there was no thesis at the time. Having viewed the emails from the libraries and the video from Dr. Peng, it does appear that none of the libraries have a record of the thesis being provided at the time the PhD was awarded in 1984. We accept that the explanation provided by the University that the thesis had been lost or mis-shelved may not be correct, as there is no catalogue or microfilm record of the original thesis.”

“A video of Dr. Peng conducting a search for President Tsai’s PhD thesis on the computer records of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) library, assisted by a member of the library staff….shows that they were unable to find a record of the thesis under President Tsai’s name or title of the thesis. The member of the staff says that if the thesis had gone missing it would be in the catalogue, and as it is not there suggests that the library had not received it.”

“As explained above, it does appear from the evidence that copies of the thesis may not have been provided to the libraries at the time by the examiners, rather than having been lost or mis-shelved.”

The appellant is a Taiwanese-American who sought details about the thesis viva examination and now plans to seek permission to appeal the decision. Under the legal system of the United Kingdom the appellant must seek the judge’s permission to appeal. The appellant believes the court made an error of law on the necessity of transparent verification by shielding the University of London with a cloak of secrecy. The University’s excuse about the library losing a thesis it never had in its collection severely undermines the school’s credibility about unverifed claims concerning the thesis and should have been a red flag for the judge.

President Tsai’s thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, has been at the center of controversy since June 2019 when Tsai filed the thesis with the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years after it was due on the shelves. Although Tsai attended LSE, the University of London awarded her a PhD degree as her own school could not then issue advanced degrees. Tsai’s advisor at LSE was Michael Elliott, who himself lacked a PhD degree.

Judge Oliver’s rebuke to the University of London is not the first time the school has been slapped over the thesis controversy. In September 2021, the Information Commissioner threatened the University with a citation for contempt of court if it failed to disclose email communications about the thesis that the school had wrongly declared to be President Tsai’s personal data.

“The steps that the University and the LSE have taken in order to locate the missing thesis do not involve President Tsai and the emails do not indicate that she had any involvement in (or even knowledge of) what was happening. Therefore the emails cannot reasonably be said to be relevant to any decision involving President Tsai. She is not the subject of these emails – her thesis is. The Commissioner is thus satisfied that the emails have insufficient connection to President Tsai to be her personal data.”

The University of London backed down and released the requested email messages which have not yet been made available to the public. However, absent a threat of contempt of court, the University of London continues to stonewall requests for information. Presently the school has failed to provide the 1983 thesis examiner regulations as requested, even though no personal data of any sort is sought.

The appellant in the latest Tribunal case “accepts that the University has stated publicly that it holds records of the viva and that President Tsai was awarded a PhD degree.”

“When asked about this by the Judge, he initially said that he didn’t think the University was telling the truth. He went on to say that he can’t say the University is lying, but he hasn’t been able to get a straight answer.”

Author: richardsonreports

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

11 thoughts on “Information Review Tribunal judge rejects University of London claim President Tsai Ing-wen’s PhD thesis was lost by library”

  1. Tsai publicly claimed that she was awarded 1.5 PhD degrees by UoL. There is video evidence showing that Tsai has made such a “1.5 PhD degrees” statement. Tell UoL that it is such a loss to the academia that Tsai’s original thesis was nowhere found in the world that people cannot read such an exceptional thesis that earned Tsai 1.5 PhD degrees. Tsai’s personal copy of her “thesis” available online can only earn her “negative 1.5 PhD degrees.” Maybe a request could be made to UoL about Tsai’s 1.5 PhD degrees. UoL should know they had awarded such an outstanding student with 1.5 PhD degrees that none has even earned before and after.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In ICO’s September 3, 2021 ruling, item 48 states:
      “The withheld information does not contain anything that, in the
      Commissioner’s view, would undermine anything that either President
      Tsai, her Office, the University or the LSE has said or published.
      Therefore, the Commissioner does not consider that this is a case where
      there has been a selective disclosure of information to paint a partial
      and misleading picture. Indeed, the Commissioner considers that the
      withheld information merely reinforces what has already been said.”
      Tsai has said she was awarded 1.5 PhD degrees, so what ICO was saying is that the withheld information would not undermine what Tsai’s has said about her 1.5 PhD degrees? Someone has to show this video to ICO.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We still need to know who or what agency issued the LSE statment that was full of wrong information and false claims, and why ICO was willing to take it’s face value.

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  3. Mr. Richardson said “Under the legal system of the United Kingdom the appellant must seek the judge’s permission to appeal.”

    Judge? Does that mean Ms. Oliver? Why does the appeal need judge’s permission to be raised? Or, I may say any further information Dr. Peng or the appellant should offer to get the permission instead just raising “a red flag for the judge”.

    I feel even more confused after watching Dr. Peng’s video on 12/19. I am very excited to know that Dr. Peng got a chance to meet the judge (after a 10hr driving); on the other hand, it’s quite disappointing that she still “upheld a secrecy shield about” who the examiners are. Wasn’t she told that a Taiwan public procurator charges Dr. Peng and the Judge accept the request of listing Dr. Peng as wanted? One of their important evidences is the names of examiners offered by Tsai’s attorney.

    How can Tsai have released the names of her viva examiners to accuse Dr. Peng in Taiwan for but ICO still takes the names as confidential in UK?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the United Kingdom the court’s permission is needed to appeal to prevent frivolous appeals. The standard is an error of law. Dennis Peng did not get to actually testify but the court watched a video statement of Peng at IALS Library, the national law library. President Tsai has not released the examiner names. Kevin Haynes, LSE Head of Legal Team, took it upon himself to offer up names to ROC prosecutors. Haynes stated he did not believe examiner identification violated the Data Protection Act, a view taken by ICO. The ICO is of the opinion LSE does not possess the names and did not credit Haynes’ actions as a definitive statement of examiner identity. That issue is now pending before the Information Review Tribunal. Thanks for the questions.

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