Spanish minister resigns over academic degree

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Health Minister Carmen Monton resigned on Tuesday after reports of irregularities in how she obtained an academic degree, becoming the second minister to quit since Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took office in June.

Spanish news website reported on Monday that Monton had been awarded grades without attending classes or having contact with professors when she obtained her master’s degree at Madrid’s Rey Juan Carlos university.

Broadcaster La Sexta said on Tuesday it had tracked down her final project and found it contained plagiarized passages.

Monton denied those reports but said she was stepping down anyway, to avoid the situation affecting the government.

Sanchez took power after toppling his predecessor with a confidence vote over a long-running corruption scandal.

Anti-austerity group Podemos said Monton had no option but to resign if she could not explain the situation.

Monton’s departure follows that of Maxim Huerta, who resigned as culture minister in June just a week after taking office, over a tax fine related to his income 10 years ago.

Rey Juan Carlos university has been connected with other recent scandals involving accusations that politicians held improperly obtained qualifications.

The previous head of the Madrid regional government and the head of the opposition People’s Party received academic titles there which attracted accusations of malpractice, which both denied.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Peter Graff