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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
German defence minister sacked
Rudolf Scharping
Scharping said he received payments from a PR adviser
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has sacked Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping in a row over payments from the private sector.

Mr Scharping, who had denied his job was on the line, insisted he would fight to clear his name.

Gerhard Schroeder
Chancellor Schroeder has already lost seven members of his cabinet
Two months before general elections on 22 September, Mr Scharping will be replaced by Social Democrats parliamentary group leader Peter Struck.

The BBC correspondent in Berlin says Mr Scharping had become Germany's most accident-prone minister, having already survived several scandals.

He is the eighth minister Mr Schroeder has lost since taking office in 1998.

The news of Mr Scharping's fate first leaked out when the deputy parliamentary leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) told the Die Welt newspaper that a decision had been taken to replace Mr Scharping.


There will be a change at the helm of the defence ministry

Gernot Erler
Mr Scharping then denied the report.

Earlier, he conceded in an interview with the Bild daily he had received payments totalling 140,000 marks ($72,000) from public relations adviser Moritz Hunzinger.

Members of the German Government are not allowed to receive any pay apart from their ministerial salaries.

But he insisted that the money, which he received for three lectures and his future memoirs, covered work carried out before he became a minister and that tax authorities were kept informed.

"I acted in accordance with the law. I can do no more. So I see no reason to resign," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"Large parts of the claims against me are false and deliberately defamatory."

Earlier scandals

Mr Scharping is no stranger to controversy.

Last summer, he came under fire for magazine photos showing him and his girlfriend splashing in a pool on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca just as German troops prepared to head to Macedonia.

Revelations followed that he used an air force plane to return overnight to Mallorca at taxpayers' expense between two official engagements, an affair that put his job on the line at the time.

But the 11 September attacks in the United States submerged the scandal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Broomby
"This isn't the first scandal"
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
"I have asked Mr Scharping to leave his post"
See also:

10 Sep 01 | Europe
15 Jan 01 | Europe
29 Aug 01 | Europe
15 Jan 01 | Europe
10 Jan 01 | Europe
06 Sep 00 | Americas
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