I’m not really into United States politics, but that a Maltese professor by the name of Joseph Mifsud was somehow connected to the Papadopoulos/Manafort revelations caught my eye.
So who is this Joseph Mifsud guy?
He’s a Professor, right. So he must at least be on Wikipedia? No. Nothing about him on Wikipedia. Just a Josef Mifsud… a football player!
What about where he worked? NYT says he was associated with London Academy of Diplomacy. There is a Facebook Page for that with 183 likes that has not been updated since 2013. The Academy has no Wikipedia page either, and when you Google for it it turns out it has no website either, except this weird page made by some former collaborator of Mifsud’s, Nabil Ayal. Talk about retro!
So who is Nabil Ayal? Wikipedia says he is a Professor at Loughborough University London. His LinkedIn page indicates he works as “Director of The Academy of Diplomacy and Internatinal Governance” at Loughborough London. But his name is not on the relevant page of the University site.
But Ayal is a side issue. Back to Mifsud.
What else does Google dig up for us?
There are plenty of questions about the London Academy of Diplomacy. Its Facebook Page (as mentioned above) shows it is associated with the University of East Anglia, but as NYT discovered, this was then moved to be affiliated to the University of Stirling in 2015. The Facebook Page was not updated to reflect this. The physical address of the Academy is listed as 102 Middlesex Street E1 7EZ London – a building of the University of Newcastle – but this used to be UEA’s London Campus building, so nothing untoward I think.
So then to Stirling. This is the profile of Mifsud on their website. It is, well, minimal. Mifsud was apparently making recommendations about Brexit back in June 2017. And back in 2016 he gave a lecture at Stirling alongside Sir George Reid – this is the most interesting piece on Stirling’s website as it gives us a short biography of Mifsud (more below). Further, if you search Stirling’s website for “London Academy of Diplomacy” you get very little – this 2014 news story that mentions it, and this 2015 story (about George Reid!) mentions its URL – http://www.stir.ac.uk/londonacademyofdiplomacy/ – but that now directs to a generic humanities page. The last snapshot of an actual page of the Academy is from March 2016 on Wayback Machine. If this Academy were in any way worthwhile you would expect more, and it is not clear what happened to these programmes that the Wayback Machine page mentions.
Mifsud is additionally listed on the website of an organisation in London called “London Centre of International Law Practice“, but when following the link to his profile there you get “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.” Funny that. More than an hour later the page is not available. I tweeted them to tell them too. You can find that page on Google Cache though (and just in case that disappears I’ve archived it here).
Googling Mifsud also brings up this page of RoH Attorneys at Law, an international law firm. Thing is Mifsud is not listed on that page any more. Back to Google’s cache and oh, there he is, as a consultant. That page I have archived too, just in case.
Are these organisations getting nervous I wonder?
Anyway, to Mifsud’s past.
The 2016 Stirling biography, and the cached LCILP biography, give us a list of other organisations Mifsud has been involved with (in addition to Stirling and LCILP). Here I list each, and see what I can find about his role in each of them:
- University of East Anglia – 5 PDFs on UEA’s website. This one says “Director of International Strategic Development of the London Academy of Diplomacy, University of East Anglia London Campus and the Director of International Relations at the Link Campus University in Rome”. We know UEA closed its London Campus though, so I think this all holds together, even if what Mifsud actually did at UEA remains unclear.
- EMUNI in Piran in Slovenia – he’s a former President, apparently – here’s what Google finds. Some references to Mifsud, but you would think a former President of a University might still have a biography on the site of a University? Not here.
- European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) – listed as a member of the ECFR Council. He signed a 2016 ECFR letter as well.
- Valdai Group – he’s listed as a Professor and expert, and has written three articles for them (NYT found this connection to Valdai and Russia)
- European University Association (EUA) – nothing on their website
- London Diplomatic Forum (he was a Convener) – I do not know what that even is (see this search). If this was an error and it meant the Global Diplomatic Forum in London, that doesn’t help either.
- Moroccon Centre of Strategic Studies (CMES) in Rabat – nothing on their website.
- President of the Comité du Risque, apparently instituted by the Republic of France at the Elysée from 2009-2012 – I can find nothing about the existence of this in this period, or Mifsud’s role in it. Searching the main Elysée webpage for his name reveals… nothing.
Back in his native Malta he is supposed to have taught at University of Malta, and worked at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, and at Ministry of Education in Malta (as Chief Advisor between 1996 and 1998). The problem here is that Mifsud is a very common Maltese name… Searching the University of Malta finds a Dr Joseph Mifsud who works on sports law, and a Magistrate Joseph Mifsud who, I think, must be the Magistrate generally known as Joe Mifsud. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs you find a Driver / Maintenance Man called Joseph Mifsud (this PDF), and one mention of the correct Mifsud (but in his role in Slovenia). In the Ministry of Education we find other Mifsuds – one who is a school teacher, and our Driver / Maintenance Man again twice. This Driver chap seems more famous in Maltese administration than this Professor with the grand CV!
Lastly, Mifsud is supposed to have studied at the University of Malta, the University of Padova and at the Queens University Belfast. Malta I have already covered, and searching the Uni Padova and Queens sites reveals nothing. A little more information about his academic background, and that he was born in 1960, can be found in this PDF from a European Parliament hearing. Note that none of his three degrees are in law. And I cannot find any reference to any papers he has ever written in Google Scholar.
So what can we learn from this?
First, any cursory glance at all of this shows that all of the parts of Mifsud’s background do not seem to really all add up. Did Papadopoulos not even look into these issues? Second, two British universities – UEA and especially Stirling – seem to have some questions to answer. Detail on exactly what Mifsud did at either would be handy. Third, all of this just scratches the surface, pulling together publicly available information. Even just that tells quite a tale!
This story is moving fast. I will add links here as and when I can.
“Mystery Professor in Mueller Case Had Contacts With Russian Officials” – Mother Jones – for more on his Russia links (thanks @SE25A)
“‘Ineligible’ expenses academic in trouble” – Times of Malta – on financial problems Mifsud had at EMUNI (thanks @toby1kenobi)
Meanwhile a friend has pointed me towards Mifsud’s PhD, entitled “Managing educational reform : a comparative approach from Malta (and Northern Ireland); a headteachers’ perspective.”, awarded 1995
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