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University finds more plagiarism issues with Finns Party MP's master's thesis

The investigating researcher said that Huhtasaari did not permit the university to check her thesis using plagiarism detection software.

File photo of Finns Party MP Laura Huhtasaari. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

An external probe commissioned by Jyväskylä University found that Finns Party MP Laura Huhtasaari plagiarised major parts of her master's thesis.

News regarding Huhtasaari's 2003 thesis "Cultural Practices in Multicultural Basic Education Groups" began to appear at the beginning of this year, after suspicions arose that she plagiarised parts of it. Then, the University of Jyväskylä opened a preliminary probe into the issue, saying the institution would use an external expert.

Then in May, an in-depth analysis and report about the document by Yle raised further questions about the Finns Party MP's thesis.

Now the university's probe is complete and rector Keijo Hämäläinen said in a statement that the grounds for opening an investigation into Huhtasaari's thesis were well-founded. He said that the thesis violated sound scientific practice.

More serious than first thought

Hämäläinen characterised the violations as grave and more serious than an earlier probe had revealed.

The new investigation into the document was carried out by an external expert, Professor Patrik Scheinin from the University of Helsinki.

Scheinin said that he was not able to use computer cross-referencing software that identifies plagiarism in documents because Huhtasaari did not give the university permission to do so.

The Scheinin-led investigation revealed that some 80 percent of the conclusion part of Huhtasaari's thesis had been copied outright.

Shortcomings were also found in the thesis' references section, and it was unclear at which point some of the document's direct quotes actually began.

The investigation report said the shortcomings uncovered in the thesis were not simply separate errors, but rather an approach that appeared on entire pages and whole chapters, which were reflected in the final conclusion and result sections of the document.

Huhtasaari denies allegations

On Monday Huhtasaari responded to the investigation report on Twitter, denying that she intentionally plagiarised her master's thesis.

On Facebook she wrote that she tried to follow the rules when she wrote the thesis 15 years ago, saying it was not a question of her cheating consciously.

Jyväskylä University said that it would not continue pursuing the matter because the thesis is out of date.

Finns Party chair: no reason for action

Huhtasaari is also vice chair of the Finns Party and was a candidate in this year's presidential election.

But the chair of the party, Jussi Halla-aho said there is no reason to comment on Huhtasaari's master's thesis, saying that the party will not take action against her for something that happened several years ago.

"It is very regrettable, but now the university has looked into this and there is no more to say. An old [master's] thesis has no relevance to the party's activities," Halla-aho said.