Koch-Mehrin resigns over plagiarism allegations

Koch-Mehrin, 40, said in a statement in Brussels yesterday that she was laying down her office as the chairperson of the FDP in the European Parliament, Vice-President of the European Parliament and member of the standing committee of the FDP with immediate effect.

She will, however, continue her work as a member of the European Parliament.
She is the second German politician to step down in a plagiarism row within two-and-a-half months.

Former defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was forced to resign on March 1 over charges that he had copied for his thesis from other research publications and reports without acknowledging them properly.

The University of Bayreuth had on February 23 stripped him off his doctorate title.
Koch-Mehrin's surprise announcement came just a day before the FDP is set to elect Philipp Roesler as its new chairman at a party congress in Rostock and media reports speculated that she may have come under pressure from party colleagues to step aside until the allegations against her are cleared.

She said in her statement that she took her decision to make it easier for her party a new beginning under Roesler's leadership.

The University of Heidelberg is currently investigating allegations that the FDP politician had lifted material for her thesis on the theme "Historic currency union between economy and politics" from other research publications without properly acknowledging them.

A newspaper report quoting university sources said several instances of plagiarism were found in her 227-page thesis, which earned her the doctorate title in 2001.

The university had asked her to make a statement on the allegations against her.
So far, she has not responded to these charges.

Koch-Mehrin is credited with the FDP's victory in the European Parliament election in 2004, which enabled the party to re-enter the house after more than 10 years' absence.
With Koch-Mehrin as its leading candidate, the FDP also achieved its best result of eleven per cent votes in a European parliament election in 2009.

Meanwhile, a university commission which investigated the allegations of plagiarism against zu Guttenberg, confirmed on Wednesday that he had "deliberately cheated" in his thesis.

The inquiry commission of the University of Bayreuth said in its final report that the former defence minister had "gravely violated" the standards of good research practices and "deliberately cheated the committee of examiners".

He had lifted material from other research publications and reports on an "unimaginable scale" without acknowledging them properly, the commission said.

A state prosecutor in Bavaria has opened investigations into suspected copy right violations by zu Guttenberg.

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