Germany’s Education Minister has had her PhD withdrawn after she was found to have plagiarised parts of her thesis 33 years ago.
Annette Schavan faced accusations for months that large parts of her 1980 work on personality and conscience were not her own.
The Dean of the philosophy faculty at the University of Dusseldorf, Bruno Bleckmann, told reporters that the overall impression is that throughout the dissertation, the doctoral candidate systematically and deliberately presented intellectual ideas which she had not actually thought of herself.
The 57-year-old has always denied the claims and has a month to launch an appeal against the decision.
“At no time while working on my dissertation did I try to cheat.” she has said. “I firmly reject this accusation. I am going to fight. I owe it to myself and I owe it to science.”
The news will come as a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Schavan is a close ally and has held the post of Education Minister since Merkel’s first administration in 2005.
Two similar cases shocked the political scene in Germany in 2011.