NEWS

Nepotism straddles party divide

Just one day after a Cabinet minister was forced to resign following revelations that he had pressed for his son’s transfer to a prestigious university on highly unusual grounds, yesterday opposition PASOK found itself on the defensive against similar allegations regarding its press spokesman. But Spyros Vougias, a 52-year-old assistant professor at Thessaloniki Polytechnic, fended off government calls for his removal by arguing that his case was completely different to that of Savvas Tsitouridis, 50, who lost his Agriculture Ministry portfolio on Wednesday. Tsitouridis was obliged to resign hours after a junior PASOK MP revealed that his son had secured a transfer from the University of Crete to the Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences in Athens after claiming this move would afford him better security ahead of the Athens Olympics. The Panteion had turned down an initial application by the young man who had claimed he needed a transfer on health grounds. Yesterday, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos urged opposition leader George Papandreou to sack Vougias – without success – after it emerged that the PASOK spokesman’s daughter had secured a transfer to her native Thessaloniki from the University of Thrace. But, while not denying the transfer, Vougias said it was a perk provided to academic staff by his university, and accused the ruling conservatives of peddling red herrings. «There was no preferential treatment,» he said. «It was an automatic process, and it would have been very strange if my application had been rejected… This comparison is totally unfounded, and I believe New Democracy’s attempt to shift responsibility will fall flat.» Roussopoulos, however, claimed that there was no law to allow academic staff to arrange for their children’s transfers from other universities. «If there is such a law, let [Vougias] show it to us,» he said. «Otherwise, let him resign.»