Oxford denies doctorate for Iranian minister

Interior minister reportedly presented bogus documents


Britain's prestigious Oxford University denied on Wednesday having given an honorary degree to an Iranian minister, after he reportedly presented a bogus document claiming the qualification.

New Interior Minister Ali Kordan's claim, made during recent parliamentary hearings on his appointment, has landed him in hot water in Tehran, according to the English-language Tehran Times and Britain's The Guardian newspaper.

According to The Guardian, Kordan presented a certificate on Oxford University-headed paper purportedly awarding him an "honorary doctorate of law" for "opening a new chapter" in comparative legal studies.

The certificate -- allegedly awarded by the "faculty of the college of law" -- was dated June 2000 was signed by three professors, Edmund Rolls, Alan Cowey and P.E. Bryant, the British newspaper said.

But a statement issued by Oxford, Britain's oldest university, said: "The University of Oxford has no record of Mr Ali Kordan receiving an honorary doctorate or any other degree from the university.

It added that the three named professors "have all at some stage held posts at the university... However, none of them work in the field of law, and none of them would sign degree certificates."

Kordan was appointed this month after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sacked his last interior minister in May. He replaced him with a political ally, Mehdi Hashemi, on a caretaker basis.

The Tehran Times said Kordan had to "weather fierce attacks by some lawmakers" before his confirmation.

It quoted him denying the charges about his academic qualifications, saying: "If I had known there are some doubts about my certificates, I would have submitted copies of my master's and PhD certificates to the representatives."

The Guardian said Ahmadinejad has publicly defended Kordan by saying he should not be judged on a "piece of torn paper."