Confirmed: Boris Johnson did meet middle-man in Trump/Russia affair
This is one in a series of articles about the Trump-Russia affair and the characters involved.
It is now confirmed that Boris Johnson met Joseph Mifsud — the mysterious “professor” who acted as go-between in the Trump/Russia affair — at a Conservative Party fundraising dinner last month.
Last week, the website Byline reported that Britain’s foreign secretary and the man suspected of being a Russian intelligence “asset” had both attended the dinner in Reading, though it was unclear if they had actually met.
In a follow-up article, the Observer newspaper said it had seen an email sent by Mifsud to a colleague in which he claimed he would be “meeting Boris Johnson for dinner re Brexit”.
The Observer quoted a Foreign Office source as saying: “The foreign secretary has not knowingly met this person, planned to meet this person, or indeed ever heard of this person before.”
Alok Sharma, who was a Foreign Office minister until June this year, admits to having met Mifsud “a couple of times” and to having “briefly greeted” Mifsud at the fundraising dinner, which was held on October 19 in Sharma’s parliamentary constituency.
Sharma told the Observer: “I did not introduce him [Mifsud] to Boris Johnson and I don’t think anyone else did either.”
However, a photograph posted on Facebook shows that Johnson and Mifsud did meet. The photograph was posted by Conservative supporter Prasenjit Kumar Singh (who appears on the right in the picture).
On Friday, the New York Times reported that Olga Polonskaya (slightly different spelling) was the real name of a Russian woman who had posed as a niece of President Putin when Mifsud met George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump election campaign, on 14 March last year (see chronology).
The New York Times described her as “a 30-year-old Russian from St Petersburg and the former manager of a wine distribution company”.
Kumar has previously described Maltese-born Mifsud as one of his “good old friends”. In July, he posted a photo of himself and Mifsud in Albania, after a dinner with the Albanian deputy prime minister and an Albanian MP.
The caption said:
“Good old friends having dinner in Albania. In presence Albanian Deputy Prime Minister another Member of Parliament and a Maltese Diplomat [i.e. Mifsud].”
Another photo posted by Kumar in July shows him with British prime minister Theresa May “at a private lunch party”.
Kumar, who currently runs a company called London School of Executive Training Limited, has previously been embroiled in controversy over the status of various private colleges in which he was involved.
One dispute in 2004 centred around a “graduation ceremony” attended by Michael Ancram, Conservative shadow foreign secretary at the time.
There was further controversy surrounding Kumar’s colleges in 2007.