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Revealed: Stirling University’s ties to Academy run by Russia inquiry professor

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Credit: Associated Press

The University of Stirling was partnered with the London Academy of Diplomacy, an institution led by Joseph Mifsud, the academic who attempted to connect the Trump campaign with Vladimir Putin.

The academy was stewarded by Professor Joseph Mifsud, who held the title of ‘Director’ from 2012 until its closure last year.

In an interview with the Washington Diplomat in 2014, Mifsud described the LAD as “one of the best diplomatic academies in the world”.

Previously the LAD was run by the University of East Anglia, however degrees have been validated by the University of Stirling since August 1, 2014.

In various LAD press releases, Stirling is described as a ‘partner’ and an affiliate of the London Academy.

In a joint LAD-Stirling brochure, Mifsud also touted the LAD’s “prestigious blend of visiting professors” from the University of Stirling.

In the same brochure, Professor Douglas Brodie, Head of School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling, described Stirling’s partnership with the LAD as joining “the heart of Scotland with the heart of London” and that Stirling was “anxious to build on common interests to build further programmes tailored to the needs of the diplomatic community”.

More than a mere partner with Stirling, a number of official email addresses for the LAD were hosted on University of Stirling servers, with their main email address listed on official literature as diplomacy@stir.ac.uk.

London Academy of Diplomacy was a member of Chatham House and the International Forum for Diplomatic Training, and claimed to have “close links with the UN and the EU”.

Despite this membership, Robin Niblett, veteran director of Chatham House, claims to never have heard of Mifsud.

Also, since its closure last year, the London Academy of Diplomacy appears to have disappeared from the internet.

Their former website is only available to access via the online archive service Wayback Machine and any remaining social media profiles have not been updated for years.

There is little to no mention of the LAD on the University of Stirling’s website either, and old links for the academy no longer exist on the site and are only available through online archives.

In his time as Director of the London Academy, Mifsud took part in various events around the world acting as an ambassador for the institution – including a conference at the Valdai Discussion Club in 2016, which Vladimir Putin is believed to have attended.

According to the Washington Post, Joseph Mifsud has claimed to have met with Vladimir Putin.

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Credit: Russian Embassy in London

Mifsud is a regular contributor to the Russian think-tank, having published a number of journal entries with them on Russian international relations under the LAD banner.

While at the conference, he took part in an event entitled “What Russia Can Do to Bridge Saudi-Iranian Differences”.

Much has been reported of Mifsud’s ties to the Russian government, offering to act as an intermediary between Trump campaign official George Papadopoulos and ‘high level Russian officials’, as outlined in US court papers.

Initially Mifsud denied any involvement, citing that his involvement with Russian extended no further than ‘academic’ ties.

He has since altered his statement and now admits to his involvement with the Trump campaign.

Mifsud’s ties to Russian academia overlap with his tenure as the Director of the London Academy of Diplomacy.

He was influential in establishing a collaboration between the Faculty of Global Processes at Moscow State University and the London Academy of Diplomacy, an endeavour which he discussed with Russian Ambassador Ernest Chernukhin when he visited the LAD campus in 2014.

AP also reports that Mifsud signed a “wide ranging cooperation agreement” with the Russian university, which called for, among other things, “shared research, student and teacher exchanges” and “a commitment to hold conferences together and to publish joint research”.

Who then, is responsible for the running of the LAD beyond the directorship of Joseph Mifsud?

Official records show that the London Academy of Diplomacy is owned and run by the founders of the INTO University Partnerships, an organisation which Stirling has extensive ties to and is currently partnered with.

The London Academy was closed in 2016, citing financial difficulties, with staff being made aware of its closure a year prior by INTO officials, according to one source familiar with the matter.

Brig is currently investigating who within the University of Stirling signed off on the LAD degrees, and the role played by Stirling in its closure.

Upon the closure of the Academy, Mifsud was hired by Stirling as a full-time teaching fellow in May 2017 and is currently still employed by Stirling.

CNN is reporting that Mifsud has vanished in the last week, having disappeared from a university in Rome where he currently teaches.

You can read more about Mifsud’s ties to the University of Stirling here and here.

A number of University of Stirling academics have declined to comment.

Brig will keep you up to date with any further developments in this story.

Jon Worth and Dan Vevers contributed reporting for this piece.

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