Salient facts: The tangled web around Joseph Mifsud

This is one in a series of articles about the Trump-Russia affair and the characters involved.

Last updated 2 January 2018

“Professor” Joseph Mifsud was a key figure in the Trump/Russia affair—a middleman who provided George Papadopoulos, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, with Russian contacts and told him the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.

Maltese-born Mifsud,who has since disappeared, is a puzzling figure — an active networker who had multiple links to universities and other “educational” bodies but appears to have done little academic work himself.

Mifsud obtained a PhD from Queens University, Belfast, in 1995 with a thesis on “Managing educational reform”. Although he has often been referred to as “Professor Mifsud” it is doubtful whether he has ever held the formal title of “Professor”. During his brief spell at Stirling University he was described as a “professorial teaching fellow” — which, according to the university, meant he was employed full-time in a “teaching and advisory” capacity.

This is a compilation of established facts about Mifsud and his connections …

Joseph Mifsud

Mifsud’s multiple roles:

Director of London Academy of Diplomacy from 2014 until its closure in 2016; previously described as an “external adviser”.

● “Board adviser” and “Director of International Strategic Development” at London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP).

● “Professorial teaching fellow” at University of Stirling and a full-time employee.

● “Consultant” for INTO University Partnerships, a private company. A list of INTO’s shareholders shows “J Mifsud” owning 37,000 shares .

● Frequent visitor to Link Campus University in Italy. Link’s website describes him as “Dean of the Bachelor of Arts degree program in political sciences and international relations”, though his exact role is unclear.

Other interesting connections:

● Mifsud attended the Moscow-based Valdai Discussion Club in 2016; on his return, he informed Papadopoulos that he had met high-level Russian officials and said the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails”.

● Mifsud is a “good old friend” of Prasenjit Kumar (aka Prasenjit Kumar Singh), owner of the London School of Executive Training. It appears to be through the Kumar connection that Mifsud became acquainted with Alok Sharma MP and later met Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP)

● Mifsud was described by LCILP as its “board adviser” and “Director of International Strategic Development”. After his involvement in Trump/Russia became known, LCILP removed the names and details of all staff from its website.

● Papadopoulos was head of the “Centre for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security” at LCILP from February to April 2016.

● Nagi Idris, who founded LCILP in 2014, claims to be a visiting professor at Link Campus University in Rome.

The first conference organised by LCILP after its formation was held at the London Academy of Diplomacy where Mifsud was director.

Other interesting facts:

When LCILP came under media scrutiny the “our team” page giving details of its staff disappeared from its website.

London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD)

Mifsud was the academy’s director from 2014 until its closure in 2016; he was previously described as its “external adviser”.

Its most recent owner was INTO University Partnerships.

From 2010 onwards, the academy was housed at a campus in central London which had been jointly developed by the University of East Anglia and INTO University Partnerships.

From 2010 to 2014 the academy’s courses were validated by the University of East Anglia and subsequently by the University of Stirling.

Other interesting connections:

In 2014 the academy hosted the first conference organised by LCILP.

In 2015 the academy hosted a lecture by Alok Sharma MP.

The academy often received foreign visitors but one visit that has attracted notice was by a delegation from the Lomonosov Moscow State University, accompanied by counsellor Ernest Chernukhin from the Russian embassy.

Another Russian visitor to the academy was Alexey Klishin from the International Law Faculty at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) — an academic institution run by the Russian foreign ministry. Klishin, who had been invited by Mifsud, gave a lecture on 25 January 2016 about the relationship between national and international law. In 2011, while head of Emuni, Mifsud had given a presentation at MGIMO and signed a “memorandum of understanding”.

INTO University Partnerships

INTO University Partnerships is a company that makes its money from establishing partnerships with universities — helping them to “attract lucrative students from new markets” and jointly investing in the construction of new campus facilities. In 2013 a private equity deal valued the business at more than £200 million.

INTO’s first partner, in 2005, was the University of East Anglia and together they developed a satellite campus in central London which later housed the London Academy of Diplomacy.

Stirling University became a partner of INTO in 2014 and validated course at the London Academy of Diplomacy after the University of East Anglia pulled out.

In February 2013, Mifsud visited Malta acting as a consultant for INTO.

A list of INTO’s shareholders filed at Companies House in July 2017 shows “J Mifsud” owning 37,000 shares.

Interesting fact:

In 2007, INTO acquired its second Pilatus P-12 corporate aircraft. Company chairman Andrew Colin said: “It really has transformed the way we can do business. In one week we attended meetings in Glasgow and Newcastle on the Monday, Oxford and London on the Tuesday, Exeter and Birmingham on the Wednesday, Glasgow again on the Thursday and Norwich on the Friday. There was none of the stress that is usually created by travelling. We could go at any time we needed to, and as the aircraft can land on short grass runways if required we often can use smaller airfields to get closer to our destination.”

Link Campus University

Link Campus University in Rome began in 1999 as a subsidiary of the University of Malta but is now an independent (for-profit) institution accredited by the Italian education ministry.

Its president is 84-year-old Vincenzo Scotti, a former government minister and a member of the Christian Democracy party. Another of its directors is Italian politician Gianni Pittella.

Its website lists 25 partner universities, of which seven are Russian:

* Lomonosov Moscow State University
* Kuban State University of Physical Education, Sport and Tourism
* Kaliningrad State Technical University
* Sholokhov Moscow State University for Humanities
* Ural State University of Economics
* Baikal State University of Economics and Law
* Saint Petersburg State University of Services and Economics

The three British institutions listed are London Academy of Diplomacy, the University of East Anglia and LSE Enterprise (the “business and consultancy arm” of the London School of Economics).

Interesting connections:

Joseph Mifsud was described on Link’s website as “Dean of the Bachelor of Arts degree program in political sciences and international relations”. After his involvement in Trump/Russia became known, references to his connection with Link were removed from the website.

George Papadopoulos is known to have visited Link at least once while working for Trump’s election campaign. A photograph posted on Twitter by Nagi Idris (of LCILP) on 25 May 2016 shows him among a LCILP delegation visiting the campus.

Nagi Idris (of LCILP) claimed to be a “visiting professor” at Link. He was listed on Link’s website as a “foreign teacher” of economic history (here and here) but those mentions have since been deleted.

On a visit to Link (date unkown), Prasenjit Kumar of LSET (see below) met Olga Polonskaya, the Russian woman who posed as President Putin’s niece during one of Mifsud’s meetings with Papadopoulos.

On 16 February 2016, Stephan Roh, a Swiss lawyer officially resident in Monaco, registered a new “educational activities” company called Drake Global. Drake Global has since been reported to be investing in Link Campus University.

London School of Executive Training (LSET)

In 2014 LSET told inspectors from the British Accreditation Council that it was “working in partnership” with the London Academy of Diplomacy.

On Facebook, LSET’s owner, Prasenjit Kumar (aka Prasenjit Kumar Singh) described Mifsud as one of his “good old friends” and posted a photo of himself and Mifsud in Albania, after a dinner with the Albanian deputy prime minister and an Albanian MP.

One of LSET’s governors, Charles Chatterjee, was “a visiting academic” at London Diplomatic Academy and has also spoken at an event organised by LCILP.

Another of LSET’s governors is Prem Sharma, father of Alok Sharma MP.

Interesting facts:

LSET had only five students at the time of its inspection by the British Accreditation Council.

After attracting media attention LSET deleted the list of governors from its website.

University of East Anglia (UEA)

UEA was the first university to establish a partnership with INTO, in 2005.

From 2010 to 2014 UEA housed the London Academy of Diplomacy and validated its courses.

UEA is a partner of Link Campus University in Rome.

University of Stirling

Joseph Mifsud was a “professorial teaching fellow” at Stirling. The university initially said he had been a full-time employee since May 2017 but later said he had resigned on 23 November 2017.

Stirling validated courses at the London Academy of Diplomacy from 2014 until its closure in 2016.

An annual report from the university’s Institute of Aquaculture described Mifsud as a “high profile” visitor to the institute in 2013/2014.

On 8 April 2016 a Stirling University official circulated an email boasting of Mifsud’s international connections, including those with Russia. A second email, sent by the university’s deputy principal, John Gardner, said Mifsud had “truly global contacts in the world of diplomacy and is on first name terms with a wide variety of ambassadors from across the globe”.

On 13 April 2016 Mifsud gave a public lecture at the university entitled “Controlled or uncontrolled migration — a fortress EU or a global response?”

A university press release in July 2017 said Mifsud’s expertise had “helped to refine the final recommendations” in a British Council document on Brexit.

Stirling embarked on a partnership with INTO in 2014.

Vincenzo Scotti, president of Link Campus University in Rome is an honorary professor at Stirling.

Prasenjit Kumar

Prasenjit Kumar (aka Prasenjit Kumar Singh) owns the London School of Executive Training (LSET) which was “working in partnership” with the London Academy of Diplomacy.

On Facebook, Kumar described Mifsud as one of his “good old friends” and posted a photo of himself and Mifsud in Albania, after a dinner with the Albanian deputy prime minister and an Albanian MP.

On a visit to Link Campus University (date unkown), Kumar met Olga Polonskaya, the Russian woman who posed as President Putin’s niece during one of Mifsud’s meetings with Papadopoulos.

Around August/September 2017, met Polonskaya again, at the Westfield shopping centre in London.

Kumar has been involved in a succession of failed education businesses. In 2009 one of these companies, Halifax College (UK) Limited, made donations to the Conservative party in Reading West amounting to £5,000. At the time, Reading West was a marginal constituency held by Labour. The following year, Alok Sharma captured it for the Conservatives.

On 19 October 2017 Kumar and Mifsud attended a Conservative party fundraising dinner in Sharma’s constituency where they were photographed side by side with Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary. Johnson had previously denied “knowingly” meeting Mifsud.

Interesting fact:

After attracting media attention, Kumar deleted all relevant posts from his Facebook page.

Alok Sharma, MP

Alok Sharma has been Conservative MP for Reading West since 2010 and briefly served as a junior minister in the Foreign Office.

A few months before Sharma was elected, a company in which Kumar was involved — Halifax College (UK) Limited — made donations to the Conservative party in Reading West amounting to £5,000.

In 2015 Sharma gave a public lecture at the London Academy of Diplomacy where Mifsud was director.

Alok Sharma’s father, Prem Sharma, is a governor of Kumar’s London School of Executive Training.

On 19 October 2017 Kumar and Mifsud attended a Conservative party fundraising dinner in Sharma’s constituency where they were photographed side by side with Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary. Johnson had previously denied “knowingly” meeting Mifsud.

Sharma admits to having met Mifsud “a couple of times” and to having “briefly greeted” Mifsud at the fundraising dinner on 19 October 2017 but says he did not introduce Mifsud to Johnson.

Nagi Idris

Nagi Idris founded the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP) where Mifsud and Papadopoulos were both working between February and April 2016.

Idris claims to be a visiting professor at Link Campus University in Rome.

On 25 May 2016 Idris posted a photo on Twitter showing Papadopoulos among a delegation from LCILP visiting Link Campus University.


A diagram visualising the connections described above, plus some more, can be found on Jon Worth’s website:

Updated on 21 November 2017 to include visit by Alexey Klishin to London Academy of Diplomacy.

Updated on 31 December 2017 to include Mifsud’s additional job title at LCILP.

Updated on 2 January 2018 to include details of Mifsud’s PhD at Queens University, his resignation from Stirling University, and the removal of Mifsud and Nagi Idris from Link Campus University’s website.