President absolved of plagiarising his doctoral thesis


Hungary: An inquiry has absolved Hungarian president Pal Schmitt of blame for allegedly plagiarising his doctoral thesis, and criticised his university for not spotting that most of it closely resembled the work of other academics, writes DANIEL McLAUGHLIN in Budapest.

Mr Schmitt, a close ally of prime minister Viktor Orban, was embarrassed by claims in Hungarian media that almost 200 of the 215 pages in his dissertation on the Olympic Games were copied word-for-word from other papers. Mr Schmitt denied the allegations.

The investigative committee found that 17 pages were identical to a thesis written by German sports sociologist Klaus Heinemann, while 180 pages bore close resemblance to work by Bulgarian academic Nikolai Georgiev.

The committee cleared Mr Schmitt, however, and put all the blame for the affair on the university for making “a professional error by not discovering the identical text in time and allowing the author to believe that his dissertation met the required standards”.

While the government said it hoped the ruling would end “political” attacks on Mr Schmitt, opposition parties called for his resignation and denounced alleged cronyism and corruption in Hungary’s ruling elite.