Vice-Chancellor’s response to MP’s questions about Joseph Mifsud “wholly unsatisfactory”

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Times of Malta Mifsud
Credit: Matthew Mirabelli/Times of Malta

An MP has criticised the reply to a letter he sent to the University of Stirling’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor last month regarding Professor Joseph Mifsud, calling the response “wholly unsatisfactory”.

Prof. Mifsud resigned from the university on November 23 last year following revelations that he was a vital intermediary between a Trump campaign aide and figures from the Russian government during the 2016 US presidential election.

In a letter dated January 31 and addressed to Vice-Chancellor Gerry McCormac, Ben Bradshaw MP asked eight questions regarding the links between the university and Mifsud, as well as its relationship with the London Academy of Diplomacy and Link Campus University in Rome, both of which employed the professor.

Bradshaw wrote: “What due diligence was carried out on Mr Mifsud and his academic qualifications and on the academic quality of the work produced at the London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD) before Stirling decided to start accrediting its Masters degrees?

“Were any inquiries made into the viability of LAD as a business?

“What contacts did you and Stirling’s former deputy principal John Gardner have with Mr Mifsud prior to his appointment and what roles did you and Mr Gardner have in it?

“How did the tie-up with the London Academy of Diplomacy come about?

“Were you, Mr Gardner, or any member of Stirling University’s management aware of Mr Mifsud’s contacts with Russian state actors?

“I understand that Mr Mifsud visited the Stirling campus 18 times between 2015 and 2017, but that 11 of these took place between May and September 2017, at least seven of which were for meetings. What was the reason for this increase in meetings?

“What was the nature of Stirling’s cooperation with Link Campus University in Rome and what role did Mr Mifsud play in developing this?

“Is the university undertaking any investigations or reviews in the wake of recent media revelations and Mr Mifsud’s departure?”

Mifsud Gerry
Mifsud (left) with Prof. Gerry McCormac, second from right. Credit: John Gardner/Twitter

The reply, sent on February 14 and signed by Prof. McCormac, largely consisted of statements that have already been included in the various press releases sent out by the university’s communications department in response to questions and Freedom of Information requests from the worldwide media.

It reads: “Professor Mifsud was initially appointed on a part-time basis from December 2014 as a Professorial Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. The University employs a number of Professorial Teaching Fellows drawn from a range of industry, political and public life backgrounds. They contribute to the university in teaching and advisory capacities on a number of programmes and projects. All of our staff are subject to due diligence prior to commencing employment.

“Professor Mifsud’s portfolio encompassed international affairs and diplomacy, reflecting his academic and professional background in this field. His contract was subsequently renewed on a full-time basis in May 2017.

“Professor Mifsud is no longer employed by the University following his resignation on 23 November 2017.

“In September 2014, the University of Stirling took over, from the University of East Anglia, the validation of two courses delivered by the London Academy of Diplomacy, in London, of which Professor Mifsud was Director. This arrangement ceased in September 2016 when the London Academy of Diplomacy withdrew these courses.

“The University regularly engages with international universities in an effort to strengthen our teaching and research. At present we have no formal relationship with Link Campus University.”

In response, Bradshaw told Brig that McCormac’s letter “doesn’t begin to answer any of [his] substantive questions.”

Bradshaw’s January 31 letter to Prof. McCormac was his second. He had previously written to the Vice-Chancellor on November 2 last year, three days after the allegations against Prof. Mifsud first surfaced.

In response to that letter, McCormac wrote that Mifsud “refuted the allegations in the media”.

Professor Mifsud is alleged to be the “overseas professor” referred to in the indictment of former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, which was made public by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller in October last year.

The indictment states that the professor, upon learning that Papadopoulos had joined the campaign, became interested in him and arranged several meetings between him and several figures from Russia, including one connected to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the indictment, which can be read here, the professor later informed Papadopoulos that Russia was in possession of “dirt” on Trump’s opponent, Hilary Clinton, in the form of “thousands of emails”.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.

The University of Stirling declined to comment for this story.

Brig‘s other stories about Professor Mifsud can be found here.

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