Sir Nigel Sheinwald gaddafi
© ReutersCurious: Sir Nigel Sheinwald (left), who was handed his Washington post by Tony Blair, offered Saif Gaddafi'active assistance' with his 429-page PhD thesis during his time at LSE

Sir Nigel Sheinwald showed 'profound interest' in Saif Gaddafi's studies

Colonel Gaddafi's son was given help with his 'dodgy' PhD thesis by Britain's ambassador to the United States.

Last night's extraordinary revelation provides further evidence of the close links between the Blair government and the Libyan tyrant's murderous regime.

His son Saif, 38, has become notorious for tirades and threats against Libyan rebels.

The doctorate awarded him by the London School of Economics was already thought suspect because he followed it with a £1.5million donation.
And now the Mail has learnt that Sir Nigel Sheinwald, who was handed his Washington post by Tony Blair, offered Gaddafi junior 'active assistance' with the 429-page work.

Saif Gaddafi
© ReutersSaif Gaddafi
Sir Nigel was at Mr Blair's side for the first meeting with Colonel Gaddafi in 2007 that resulted in a massive BP oil contract. When the Mail asked him whether he had had a hand in Saif's PhD his staff replied on his behalf that the idea was 'ludicrous'.

However, a senior source at the London School of Economics confirmed that Sir Nigel had shown a 'profound interest' in Saif's academic studies and offered 'active assistance' in his work.

The source said the assistance was informal and legitimate, adding: 'Saif was simply using his impressive contacts to make sure the work he produced was of the highest quality.'

Approached again about the thesis, an embassy spokesman conceded: 'Sir Nigel Sheinwald did meet Saif Gaddafi during the time he was studying at the LSE, and was therefore aware that he was preparing a thesis.

'But Sir Nigel had absolutely no role in the writing of any part of the thesis, made no suggestions about it to Saif Gaddafi or anyone else, and suggested no changes.'

Tony Blair Gaddafi
© Press Association
Questionable links: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair with Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli in 2004
Daniel Kawczynski, Tory chairman of the Parliamentary all-party Libya group, said: 'If a senior official like that was prepared to assist him with his thesis it does really pose some quite serious questions about the propriety of what was going on.

'That would have serious consequences and is something that the Foreign Office should really investigate and get to the truth of.

'It's a highly serious allegation and completely flies in the face of what Robin Cook famously coined an ethical foreign policy.'

Saif Gaddafi2
© Dominic O'NeillSaif in London in 2002, while a student at LSE. One British economist urged to give him extra tuition quit in despair when he realised he was working with someone with 'absolutely no academic ability'
The authenticity of Saif's work already forms part of Lord Woolf's investigation into the LSE's damaging and embarrassing financial links with Libya which forced the resignation of director Sir Howard Davies.

There are now calls for the former Lord Chief Justice to examine Sir Nigel's role.

Robert Halfon, the Tory MP for Harlow who called the LSE donation blood money, said: 'This seems to me to be yet another example of the British establishment not just cosying up but actually collaborating with the Gaddafi family.

'I have called for an inquiry into the last government's relationship with the Libyan regime and I think Sir Nigel's alleged involvement with Saif Gaddafi's thesis shows the need for an inquiry is more urgent than ever.

'This definitely should be part of Lord Woolf's inquiry.'

Tory MP Patrick Mercer said: 'The kindest thing you can say about the contacts between the Labour government and Colonel Gaddafi's regime is that it was curious.

'I have no doubt that Lord Woolf's inquiry will reveal lots of interesting things but I would be especially interested to know exactly what the foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair's involvement was in Saif Gaddafi's thesis.'

Lybian rebels
© Associated PressConflict: Libyan rebels run for cover yesterday after coming under heavy artillery fire from pro-Gaddafi forces along the frontline near Brega
Major doubts have been raised about Saif's thesis amid allegations that he used Libyan academics as ghost-writers and that large chunks were plagiarised.

One British economist urged by the Libyan ambassador in London to give Colonel Gaddafi's 'thick' son extra tuition quit in despair when he realised he was working with someone with 'absolutely no academic ability'.

A study of the research paper shows that Tony Blair gave an interview for the thesis which Saif attributes as a 'private communication'.

But there is no mention of the help provided by Sir Nigel, 57, Blair's foreign policy adviser for four years until 2007.

Saif lived a playboy's lifestyle during his time in London but gained a master's in philosophy, policy and social value from the LSE in 2003 and a PhD in philosophy in 2008 for his thesis, "The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions".

Bruiser who helped broker infamous deal in the desert

Our man in Washington has the reputation of a tough taskmaster and even as a bruiser and a bully.

Educated at Harrow - the county grammar, not the public school - and Oxford University, the 57-year-old is at the pinnacle of his 35-year Foreign Office career.

He has served in Moscow - which he had to leave in a hurry after the car he was driving hit and killed a pedestrian - the U.S. in the 1980s and Brussels.

Tony Blair Gaddafi2
© Alpha Photo Press Agency Ltd.Desert deal: Sir Nigel Sheinwald (centre), with Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi in Libya in 2007 in a negotiation that resulted in a massive BP oil contract
But it is his four years as Tony Blair's foreign policy adviser that stand out in his CV.

Between 2003 and 2007, he became very close to the prime minister and was given a series of delicate missions to Baghdad, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Khartoum and dozens of other cities.

Tall and imposing, he once snapped: 'Are you in favour of suicide bombers?' at a Middle East expert in a meeting at Number Ten.

In 2007, he held telephone negotiations with Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's national security council, in which he brokered the release of 15 British sailors captured on a routine patrol in Iraqi waters.

But it was clandestine negotiations in 2003 that marked his biggest success in Downing Street.

He orchestrated a meeting at the Traveller's Club in London's Pall Mall - for decades the secret haunt of spies - between MI6 officers and three Libyans, including recent defector Musa Kusa, that led to Colonel Gaddafi abandoning his nuclear weapons programme and coming in from the cold.

In his memoirs, Labour peer Lord Levy revealed that in February 2004 he and Sir Nigel enjoyed a lunch of smoked salmon and Dover sole with Saif Gaddafi at the House of Lords.

That same year, Sir Nigel was alongside Mr Blair for his first meeting with Gaddafi in his desert tent and in 2007 the prime minister and his foreign policy adviser were back in the Libyan desert with Gaddafi, this time hammering out the infamous 'deal in the desert' that was to lead to a £550 million oil contract for BP.

That second desert rendezvous left Sir Nigel at the centre of controversy during last year's Gulf oil spill when furious Americans claimed the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasset Al Megrahi was linked to the BP oil deal.

Sir Nigel married Dr Julia Dunne, an internationally renowned paediatrician in 1980 and they have three sons.

A contemporary at Harrow of Michael Portillo and Clive Anderson, he lists his recreations as reading and music.