The original blog post became so complicated and unwieldy that it has all now been re-organised, although the content is essentially the same.
tl;dr: Joseph Mifsud is at the heart of a network of questionable political, business and academic practices, some of which are connected to Russia. The connections between each of the things he did, and the significance of each needs more work.
The best summary of the web of his connections is this flow diagram I put together (click to enlarge). An archive of all the versions of the map, and the XML used with draw.io to make it, can be found here.
Here is a little menu of the different aspects of the investigation into Mifsud – linking to parts of this blog entry, and the notes at the end:
- London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD)
- University of Stirling and University of East Anglia
- London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP)
- RoH Attorneys
- Roles in Maltese academia and administration
- Mifsud and Russia
- More connections in the UK at Stirling and LAD
- More on Malta, inc. connection to Maltese PM
- Link to Papadopoulos
- Link to Pittella (and DNC)
- Link Campus University Rome
- Links to Stephan Roh, and Olga Roh’s business
- Rohmir and Theresa May
- Rohmir Music
- Further reading
The original blog entry:
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 Ayad. Talk about retro! There is also a sycophantic review of the institute in Diplomat Magazine here.
So who is Nabil Ayad? 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 tphe 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.
Despite this paltry social media presence, Mifsud described LAD in The Washington Diplomat in 2014 thus: “LAD is considered one of the best diplomatic academies in the world. We form part of the International Forum on Diplomatic Training”. In the same way as Carlsberg is probably the best lager in the world?
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. While Stirling officially have said as little as possible, the Student Newspaper there – Brig News – is onto it. They also found the little gem that Mifsud’s Twitter bio states he is “Dean, International Development and Diplomacy” – a position that does not exist. We assume the Twitter profile is indeed his – it’s sadly locked.
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 Wayback Machine 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! Also please note: the Joseph Mifsud mentioned here is NOT the one who is President of the Maltese Football Association. That one is 10 years older (born 1950).
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. Mifsud’s PhD, entitled “Managing educational reform : a comparative approach from Malta (and Northern Ireland); a headteachers’ perspective.”, was awarded 1995 from Queens Belfast.
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!
Notes added after the original post (reordered)
This story is moving fast. I will add links here as and when I can.
1. And it has got to Parliament:
Just asked in Commons why Government has made no statement on British link in Robert Mueller investigation & role of Joseph Mifsud.
— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) October 31, 2017
Ben has also tweeted a link to this post:
— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) October 31, 2017
3. Meanwhile Mifsud claims to have met Putin, according to Washington Post. No-one knows if this is true.
4. Oh, and more!
We spoke to him earlier – he told us Mifsud only visits Stirling campus "two or three days a year" & has a "general interest in diplomacy".
— Dan Vevers (@DanVevers) October 31, 2017
We have been in touch, they only said he's "a full-time professorial teaching fellow in the university's politics department since May 2017"
— Dan Vevers (@DanVevers) October 31, 2017
7. And he doesn’t do any research At Stirling:
8. James Chalmers is also confused by his role at Stirling
A curiosity about this: his appointment as a full-time "professorial teaching fellow", an unusual role which doesn't exactly seem common. https://t.co/JWFFiDZ1jU
— James Chalmers (@ProfChalmers) October 31, 2017
9. London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD) was owned and run by INTO University Partnerships before it was dissolved. Universities – first UEA, then Stirling – were only partners: https://intoglobal.com/search?q=academy+of+diplomacy. Searching INTO’s website brings up this 2015-16 LAD prospectus here: https://intoglobal.com/media/133997/lad-brochure-2015-16.pdf
10. Andrew Glencross has pointed me towards the International Academy of Media and Diplomacy (IAMD). Mifsud is
there among the staff. Oops, no, they have amended their website. Screenshots before and after here. University of Stirling is a partner with a logo at the bottom (as it was for Mifsud’s London Academy of Diplomacy), and Stirling Prof and Senior Deputy Principal John Gardner is listed on the staff page. However despite Stirling’s logo being on the site, there is no mention of IAMD on Stirling’s own website anywhere.
So what about the supposed founder of IAMD, Nadia Al Turki (staff page)? It says she works for Stirling, but, oh, look at that – not a single mention of her on the Stirling website. Nadia even lists University of Stirling on her LinkeIn Profile calling herself “recognised teacher” there since 2015.
IAMD is a limited company in the UK, with Al Turki as its only listed officer. If we look into Al Turki further we find she used to write for Asharq Al-Awsat, but the last story there is in 2014. She crops up on the website of a company called Global Elite Alliance, and there is a further biography of her from the website of a 2014 conference in Bahrain.
What IAMD is, and what it does, seems to be as open to as much question as Mifsud’s London Academy!
— Roberta Metsola MEP (@RobertaMetsola) October 31, 2017
And this news story shows how it gets close to Maltese PM Joseph Muscat.
13. Blogger Manuel Delia has two posts about what Mifsud did in Malta – an intro and a follow up, having talked to a number of people. The order of what happened does not quite match my own investigations though, especially in connection with Link University (see below). Delia’s blog gives additional Maltese political context from around 2013 when Michael Frendo was trying to become Secretary General of The Commonwealth.
Here's the thing. GP's LinkedIn page says he was *already working* at Mifsud's outfit… pic.twitter.com/nWVuccScOn
— Steve Peers (@StevePeers) October 31, 2017
Now the whole LCILP staff page is offline. Back to the Wayback Machine. Oddly 13 June 2016 Mifsud is listed as “Board Advisor”, but by 18 July 2016 he is “Director: International Strategic Development”. And on the 18 April snapshot there he is: George Papadopoulos “Director – International Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law” – here’s his LCILP bio from the same day on Wayback as well.
15. Some other blogs and newspapers have looked into these issues. FT went to visit LCILP, but completely misses the University of Stirling stuff. Quartz has a piece with more LCILP angles.
Link Campus University Rome
16. Italian newspaper Repubblica has managed to interview Mifsud (thanks @foederalist for the link). Later they put up the English version of their interview. He claims he is on the left, and is a member of the Clinton Foundation. There’s no reference to him on The Clinton Foundation website, and I do not think you can even be a member of the Clinton Foundation. His role in ECFR (mentioned above) is also included here. Repubblica interviews Mifsud in Rome where he head of a course at Link Campus University. A bio of Mifsud can be found on Link’s website here, that strangely makes no reference whatsoever to the University of Stirling or London Academy of Diplomacy. Link in Rome is a subsidiary of the University of Malta. Link also organised this conference during Italy’s G7 Presidency in May 2017 with Mifsud, Nabil Ayad (London Academy of Diplomacy) and John Gardner (Stirling), and Nagi Idris (LCILP) all speaking. Nawaf Obaid of the EDOF Foundation based in Geneva was also present there, and this story explains the connections between Obaid and Link. Notable too is that Link has collborations with LSE in London and Lomonosov Moscow State University. Here is the page in Russian on the Lomonsov site, featuring Mifsud and Sciotti. Here’s a pic of Mifsud speaking with a LSE logo behind him.
All of this is not Mifsud’s first effort to start a university in Italy – around 2008 (and already with the title of Professor) he appears in this story at the Consorzio Universitario di Agrigento in Sicily.
NEW: Link to S&D Leader in the European Parliament Gianni Pittella
Joseph Mifsud has had multiple contacts with S&D Group leader in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella. Pittella’s page on Wikipedia lists that he is a lecturer at the London Academy of Diplomacy, something that is also mentioned on his page on the S&D Group site and Pittella’s own site. There are two videos on Youtube (one, two) where Pittella speaks about his role at LAD. They are both in the Diplomat Magazine piece about LAD. He is listed as a “Visiting Professor” on the now deleted Stirling Uni page about LAD. There are two tweets (one, two) where him and Mifsud are mentioned, and a pic from a PD rally with him with Mifsud. Here he is on a conference panel with Mifsud, and mentioned together at EMUNI. Pittella talks about Mifsud thus: “Joseph è un mio caro amico, non posso crederlo coinvolto nel Russiagate” – story here. And here they are at a seminar at Link Campus Univerity too. And so why is this especially significant? Because Pittella went and campaigned for Clinton and attended the DNC in 2016. Him doing so was even written up in Time Magazine here. Top work Chris Blackburn linking this all together! (NOTE: every page linked in this section has been archived. Don’t think of deleting anything, Gianni!)
Links to Stephan Roh, and Olga Roh’s business
17. There are some further interesting connections via Link Campus University. The attorney who gives his name to RoH Attorneys (who deleted Mifsud from their website above) is Stephan C. RoH. You can find more about him here. RoH happens to be a member of the Board of the Foundation of Link Campus University (where Mifsud runs a programme) and also has spoken at Valdai Club, on a panel with Mifsud. Roh has published pieces in 4 books in Russian, one with the President of LINK, Vincenzo Scotti, as co-author.
18. Searching more widely about Stephan RoH leads you to discover he is married to Olga Roh, a Russian fasion entrepreneur, who is Baroness of Inchdrewer, having bought a Scottish castle for £400000. Stephan Roh is then the Baron of Inchdrewer. Story in The Scottish Mail, and Herald Scotland. Rohmir UK’s record with Companies House is here (thanks @WendySiegelman), that does not list Olga Roh as being associated with it, but Stephan is.
19. A bit of a tangent perhaps, but I have been looking into Olga Roh (see point 17 above). The most detail I can find about here is this in Russian and French here, where she is also known as Olga Chakhovskaya-Roh. An important part is about her studies at the University of Bern, after having fled there from Germany: “Ainsi, à 19 ans, je suis entrée à l’Université de Berne, à la faculté de pédagogie et de psychologie. J’ai pris également des cours supplémentaires, tels que les études germaniques, la critique littéraire, l’histoire et la culture de la mode.” That echoes what she said to Tagesspiegel in terms of location, but not in terms of studies. Tagesspiegel says “ihren Doktor in Vergleichender Literaturwissenschaft in der Schweiz“. So I looked into it at the University of Berne – they handily have an online thesis service, and database. However the only thing that vaguely matches there is this thesis – by someone called Olga Lemann-Vesselovskaya. From a nauseating TV show called “Meet the Russians” we know Olga’s daughter is called Nicole Lemann, and that Olga has been twice married. Nicole also calls herself Swiss. So I presume that Olga’s first marriage was to a Swiss called Lemann, and that her maiden name is Vesselovskaya. These are avenues for further enquiry. Meanwhile – and just to add a bit of star quality to the whole thing – Olga’s daughter is getting married to Don Rafael de Casanova von Habsburg Lothringen. (Thanks @superglaze for the work piecing these bits together)
20. Olga Roh’s fashion firm intrigues me, because it didn’t really look real. So I set out to find out if it was. Rohmir has 3 stores listed on its website – Berlin, Zürich and London. So I took a trip over to Kurfürstendamm 198 – listed as their Berlin store – to find out. This is what there is: EMPTY.
This is what it used to look like.
The guys working at the till at the shop next door said it has been gone two months.
Google also finds an address for Rohmir GmbH at Bleibtreustraße 32, 10707 Berlin, just around the corner from the store. Here there is a bell for Rohmir, that I rang, but there was no answer.
It does however seem that things still work in London and Zürich. Thanks to an old friend in Zürich and Twitter user @NeilM74 in London for the pics, both taken this evening.
The next step is to then work out whether these are really designer clothes, and what the future of the firm is.
Rohmir and Theresa May
21. The oddest tangent of all? Olga Roh has helped Theresa May with her style! From The Scottish Mail on Sunday in 2016. (Click to enlarge)
22. So what do you make for the Russian lady who has it all? Why, a record label of course! R & B Music – Rohmir Music. Registered address is the Berlin office of Stephan Roh’s law firm. And listed as a partner at the bottom of the music label’s website… Link Campus University where Mifsud teaches. Remarkable that.
You’ve got One Night, Joseph Mifsud!
24. “Mystery Professor in Mueller Case Had Contacts With Russian Officials” – Mother Jones – for more on his Russia links (thanks @SE25A)
25. “‘Ineligible’ expenses academic in trouble” – Times of Malta – on financial problems Mifsud had at EMUNI (thanks @toby1kenobi)
28. Times Higher Ed has more on the Stirling-Mifsud links.
NOTE: ALL websites linked here have been archived by me. Just in case someone tries to delete something. University of Stirling: you have been warned.