Stirling quiet on professor’s ‘Russia links’ to Trump campaign

Fellow at Scottish university at centre of investigation over presidential adviser’s alleged collusion with Russian authorities

October 31, 2017
Russian dolls of different sizes

The University of Stirling has declined to say if it will investigate a professor who is alleged to have set up meetings between a Donald Trump campaign adviser and Russian officials.

Joseph Mifsud, a professorial teaching fellow at Stirling, was thrust into the media spotlight on 30 October after the Washington Post identified him as the unnamed professor mentioned throughout a US Department of Justice indictment against George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign affairs adviser during the US president’s 2016 campaign.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence services, states that Professor Mifsud and Mr Papadopoulos met several times during the campaign, with the academic telling the Trump adviser that he had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

The Stirling academic is said to have put Mr Papadopoulos in contact with a Russian foreign ministry official and a woman, who Mr Papadopoulos thought was Russian president Vladimir Putin’s niece, court papers reveal. Mr Papadopoulos is also said to “have repeatedly sought to use the professor’s Russian connections in an effort to arrange a meeting between the campaign and Russian government officials”.

The Maltese professor confirmed to The Daily Telegraph that he is the man in the investigation documents.

However, he told the Telegraph that the claims made by Mr Papadopoulos, who has admitted lying to FBI investigators, are “incredible” and he is “upset” by them, adding that he has a “clear conscience”.

The University of Stirling refused to be drawn on whether it would take any action against Professor Mifsud, whom Times Higher Education has been unable to contact.

It confirmed only that Professor Mifsud had “been a full-time professorial teaching fellow in the university’s politics department since May 2017”.

However, Professor Mifsud was, until recently, listed as the honorary director of the London Academy of Diplomacy, which began offering Stirling-accredited degrees in September 2014.

Master’s courses at the academy cost £14,500 a year for international students and £9,500 a year for UK and European Union students, according to an online prospectus from 2014 which lists Professor Mifsud as its director.

The Scottish university took over validation of the academy’s courses after the University of East Anglia closed its London campus earlier in 2014.

Papers seen by Times Higher Education show that UEA named Professor Mifsud as the lead for “operational management” at the academy, which had teaching bases in London and Rome, when it struck an alliance with the academy in 2012.

It aimed to have 60 students for its first cohort in February 2013, of which 36 would be funded by scholarships from the Italian government, the papers show.

UEA has confirmed that Professor Mifsud held an honorary professorship at the university from August 2013 to July 2016.

Professor Mifsud’s CV, which has been deleted from the internet in recent weeks, states he is also a former president of the European Mediterranean University (Emuni University), in Piran, Slovenia, which was founded in 2008.

According to the Scottish broadcaster STV, Professor Mifsud appeared alongside former SNP MP Sir George Reid, who is also a professorial fellow at Stirling, to host a talk on the European migrant crisis.

Sir George told STV News that he believes the Maltese academic is on campus only “two or three days a year” and has a “general interest in diplomacy”.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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