In Tribunal ordered response the London School of Economics refuses to name Tsai Ing-wen thesis examiners citing ‘immense pressure’ they may face if identified


Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen, her controversial PhD thesis, and Tribunal Judge Alison McKenna who ordered the London School of Economics to respond to a Freedom of Information request about the thesis examiners. (credits: Voice of America/Hwan Lin/Third Sector)

The London School of Economics and Political Science has refused to name the thesis examiners of a 1983 PhD thesis submitted to the LSE Library in June 2019, thirty-five years late. The tardy thesis was the basis for a 1984 doctoral degree issued by the University of London. First asked in September 2019 about the identity of the examiners who approved Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s dissertation, the LSE maintained they did not know who the examiners were. In May 2021, the LSE Board Secretary Louise Nadal stated in an internal review the school did not hold records that named Tsai’s thesis examiners.

Nadal’s claim was contradicted by Kevin Haynes, the “Head of Legal Team” at the LSE, who provided information to the ROC Ministry of Justice about two LSE faculty members. President Tsai had made a criminal defamation complaint against Taiwanese newsman Dennis Peng and others for their reports on her thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions. ROC prosecutors seeking information to convict Peng were given the names by Haynes in November 2020. Rachael Maguire, Haynes’ subordinate and the school’s Information and Records Manager, claims she believes Haynes was in error because of a “hasty view” and revealed LSE records contain names of three purported examiners, although the University of London has said there were only two examiners.

Information Review Tribunal Judge Alison McKenna disputed Nadal’s internal review conclusion in a recent ruling. Judge McKenna ordered the LSE to explain the contradictory statements of Nadal and Haynes. “Its submission to the Tribunal dated 14 March 2022 it stated that “…the information we hold on file is only there accidentally…we cannot be certain that this information is accurate”.

“LSE confirmed to the Tribunal that it holds President Tsai’s student file, comprising 278 pages. It stated that there is a letter on this file in which a person appears to self-identify as one of the Viva examiners, but that it has no official notification from University of London whether this information was correct, and it holds no information on the identity of the co-examiner.”

“We conclude on the basis of all the evidence before us and on the balance of probabilities that information within the scope of the request is held by LSE in President Tsai’s student file. That information has been referred to in email correspondence between LSE and others (including apparently being supplied to a judicial inquiry) and is also referred to in its submission to the Tribunal. We understand that LSE doubts the accuracy of this information, but we conclude that this is not a basis for stating that information is not held under FOIA.”

“It may be that exemptions will be claimed, but we conclude that LSE must now issue a fresh response in which that issue is addressed. As we have concluded that information is held, the correct course is for LSE to issue a fresh response on the basis that information within the scope of the request is held, and at that stage either disclose the requested information (with contextual commentary, if necessary) or claim any exemptions to disclosure that it considers apply.”

However, the LSE fresh response still does not name the thesis examiners. Maguire has now refused to disclose the examiner names that the LSE first tried to claim it did not know.

“With reference to your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, namely for the names of the examiners for Ing-wen Tsai’s PhD viva examination, I am writing to inform you that your request has been refused.”

“While it is the School’s policy to respond as fully as possible to requests for information, it is not always able to do so….Examiner names are kept confidential in order to ensure that no pressure to increase or decrease marks occurs. There is therefore an expectation from examiners that their names will not be released, either to students or to other third parties. It would therefore breach the first data protection principle to release as it would not be fair.”

“In deciding on the fairness of release, we considered whether there was a public interest reason for releasing the names, but on balance do not think there is. The examination was nearly forty years ago. Neither LSE or University of London believe there is any reason given by any third party that the examination did not come to a proper conclusion that Ing-wen Tsai had passed the viva. Considering the interest in the case, we believe that there would be immense pressure put on the individuals concerned if we released their names that they could not have expected almost forty years ago when they agreed to be the viva examiners and which we cannot lay on them or those associated with them now.”

The matter will next go back to Louise Nadal who will be asked to explain the “immense pressure” the LSE is seeking to shield the thesis examiners from and why there are references to three examiners when purportedly there were only two. Nadal will also be asked to explain statements the school has made to the Information Commissioner’s Office that have not yet been disclosed.

President Tsai could easily end the longstanding controversy over her thesis by releasing the oral examination viva report which allegedly approved the thesis, however she refuses to do so keeping the issue alive.

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Author: richardsonreports

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

7 thoughts on “In Tribunal ordered response the London School of Economics refuses to name Tsai Ing-wen thesis examiners citing ‘immense pressure’ they may face if identified”

  1. Have Keven Haynes already identified the examiners’ names? If the names identified by Haynes are truly the examiners, have they had “immense pressure” so far? I do not think so. So LSE’s response that the examiners, if identified, would face immense pressure could mean that the examiners, if there is any, are not those identified by Haynes, or there are no examiners at all for LSE to disclose (this is more likely the case).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Neither LSE or University of London believe there is any reason given by any third party that the examination did not come to a proper conclusion that Ing-wen Tsai had passed the viva. ”

      In this case, where does the “immense pressure” mentioned below comes from NOW, almost forty years LATER?

      “we believe that there would be immense pressure put on the individuals concerned, if we released their names, that they could not have expected almost forty years ago when they agreed to be the viva examiners and which we cannot lay on them or those associated with them now.”

      Should it be “Neither LSE NOR University of London” or “Neither LSE OR University of London”?

      Like

      1. >>>Should it be “Neither LSE NOR University of London” or “Neither LSE OR University of London”?

        Should be ‘neither nor’ to simultaneously negates both of them, and ‘Either or’ to affirm both alternatives. I think nowadays they seldom use English that often, most probably copy and paste too much. It is time that they should brush up their conjunctions.

        Like

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