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Book co-written by Spanish PM contains paragraphs from a diplomat’s speech

Official government sources have put the coincidence down to an “involuntary error” by Pedro Sánchez, one that will be put it in order “as soon as possible”

A book co-authored by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the economist Carlos Ocaña contains entire paragraphs taken from the transcript of a talk delivered on February 25, 2013 by a Spanish diplomat.

The copied text is not identified as such, as it lacks quotation marks or references

The copied text is not identified as such, as it lacks quotation marks or references. The talk was given by the ambassador Manuel Cacho at Camilo José Cela University, the private center in Madrid where Sánchez obtained his PhD in economics. Sánchez himself, who had just earned a seat in Congress, organized the symposium and acted as the panel moderator. Sánchez and Ocaña’s book came out nine months later.

Cacho, who is currently the Spanish ambassador in Australia, has confirmed that nobody asked him for permission to use material from his talk. “This is the first I have heard about it,” he told EL PAÍS via a telephone conversation.

Sources at La Moncloa prime ministerial palace, described the coincidence as “an involuntary mistake.”

Compare the texts

View the transcript of Manuel Cacho’s talk at Camilo José Cela University in February 2012.

View the passage of La nueva diplomacia de la economía española containing the same paragraphs.

“The co-authors can only lament this fact, and pledge to fix it as soon as possible. Future editions of the book will cite [the source] correctly,” said the same sources.

Ocaña, who is now an executive at Real Madrid, declined to comment. Between 2008 and 2011 he was chief of staff for the industry minister, Miguel Sebastián of the Socialist Party (PSOE). Sebastián wrote the foreword to the book.

EL PAÍS has found that at least 18 pages in La nueva diplomacia de la economía española (or, The New Diplomacy of the Spanish Economy) contain passages from other sources without proper citations. The 229-page book also borrows from Sánchez’s doctoral thesis.

The revelation follows recent accusations by media and opposition parties that Sánchez’s thesis contains copied work. The thesis had only been available in hard copy format at the library of Camilo José Cela University, but growing pressure led the PSOE leader to offer online access on Friday of last week. Before that, the government said it had run the document through plagiarism-detection software and found no evidence of wrongdoing. This newspaper used three computer programs on the online thesis once it was made available, and did not find signs of unattributed work.

The co-authors can only lament this fact, and pledge to fix it as soon as possible

Sources from La Moncloa

Sánchez is the latest official to be caught up in a public debate over the academic qualifications of Spanish politicians. His health minister, Carmen Montón, recently resigned after irregularities emerged in connection with a master’s degree she obtained from King Juan Carlos University (URJC).

Earlier this year, Cristina Cifuentes of the Popular Party (PP) stepped down as Madrid regional premier following a scandal over her own degree from the URJC. And the current leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, is awaiting a Supreme Court decision on whether to proceed with a probe into the way Casado obtained a similar qualification from the same university.

Different sources

An analysis by EL PAÍS has found that Manuel Cacho’s talk was not the only outside source used in La nueva diplomacia de la economía española without proper citations. There are at least five more sources whose contributions have not been properly identified as such.

The fragments taken from the transcript of Cacho’s address even contain the same typo that the original made (“ente” instead of “entre,” meaning between). This passage is located on page 65 of the book. Pages 62 through 66 reproduce significant chunks of Cacho’s remarks.

Ambassador Cacho said that he did not read out a written text at the February 2013 symposium. “I didn’t have time and I prepared a script, it was an improvised thing,” he said over the phone. “Later the university sent me some rough drafts of the transcript for publication on their website.”

Besides this source, the book also draws on a speech delivered in Congress by then-minister Miguel Sebastián (pages 55 and 56), on a parliamentary reply (pages 154 and 156), on a report by the Economy Ministry (pages 87 and 88), on a news agency report on an official event (pages 146 and 147), and on a Cabinet press release (pages 57 and 59).

Although none of these original sources are cited in the book, sources at La Moncloa said that “the use of initiatives and documents of a parliamentary nature, which are meant for public use, is permitted.”

Borja Andrino contributed reporting to this story.

English version by Susana Urra.

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