Students have accused the University of lacking principles in accepting donations from “Tax Dodging Donor” Lord Laidlaw.
In a public letter to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Finlay, students threaten to campaign for 10 years if this issue is not addressed. The letter, signed by a group of students under the name #sistersleeds, questioned the morality of accepting money from a “sex addict who avoids an estimated £50 million in tax every year.”
#sisterleeds ask whether the University would fire a senior member of staff if they were “alleged by a newspaper to have flown prostitutes, cocaine and a 22 year old model to his private parties, and subsequently admitted to sex addiction”, and if so why does the University accept money from people with this reputation.
A University spokesperson told LS: “The University has a Gift Acceptance Committee, a sub-committee of the governing body (the University Council), which examines the source of donations and potential donations according to a set of criteria agreed by the Council and published on the University website.”
They added: “Whilst we would not comment on the financial status or personal circumstances of any alumnus or donor, the University is satisfied that these gifts were accepted in accordance with the criteria agreed by the Council.”
The students’ letter highlights that the sum of Laidlaw’s alleged tax avoidance could pay for the new library three times over and suggests that the University “should be ashamed”. They write: “it seems odd that we should accept money from an individual whose behaviour is part of the problem [of the 2008 economic crisis], not the solution.”
#sisterleeds accuse the University of “paying no heed whatsoever to students concerns, such as these”. The letter quoted a 2012 LS article, which called on the university to introduce tighter restrictions on who can donate to the institution following a previous donation from Lord Laidlaw. The full article can be read here.
The group is now calling on other students to raise this issue with their Deans.