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Blow for Merkel as close ally resigns in election year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered a major political blow less than eight months before elections when her education minister, a close ally, stepped down on Saturday over plagiarism allegations. Merkel said she had accepted the resignation of Annette Schavan "with a heavy heart" after her former university stripped her of her doctorate, saying she had plagiarised parts of her thesis "Person and Conscience" 33 years ago. Schavan vowed to fight the allegations but said she did not want the scandal to damage the office, the party or the federal government.

UPDATE 1-Key ally of Germany's Merkel to fight plagiarism ruling

* Education minister stripped of PhD awarded in 1980 * Schavan to take legal action, resists calls to resign * Affair is unwanted pre-election distraction for Merkel * Merkel has "full trust" in minister - chancellor's spokesman (Adds Merkel spokesman, paragraphs 9-10) By Gareth Jones

Merkel ally fights after losing doctorate over plagiarism

Germany's education minister and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel was fighting for her political life Wednesday after being stripped of her doctorate for plagiarism seven months ahead of elections. Annette Schavan vowed to launch a legal battle against Duesseldorf University's ruling on her thesis, "Person and Conscience", written 33 years ago, amid opposition calls for her to resign. "I will not accept the decision by the University of Duesseldorf and will file a lawsuit against it," she said in a brief statement in South Africa where she is on a five-day visit.

Merkel ally fights after losing doctorate over plagiarism

Germany's education minister and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel was fighting for her political life Wednesday after being stripped of her doctorate for plagiarism seven months ahead of elections. Annette Schavan vowed to launch a legal battle against Duesseldorf University's ruling on her thesis, "Person and Conscience", written 33 years ago, amid opposition calls for her to resign. "I will not accept the decision by the University of Duesseldorf and will file a lawsuit against it," she said in a brief statement in South Africa where she is on a five-day visit.

Close ally of Germany's Merkel faces probe over plagiarism charge

By Matthias Inverardi DUESSELDORF, Germany, Jan 22 (Reuters) - A German university board voted on Tuesday to launch a full-scale investigation into plagiarism charges against Chancellor Angela Merkel's Education Minister Annette Schavan that could damage the conservative leader's re-election campaign this year.
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