Joseph Mifsud, key figure in Trump-Russia affair, attended meeting at Elysée Palace in France

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This is one in a series of articles about the Trump-Russia affair and the characters involved.

Joseph Mifsud, the now-vanished “professor” who played a central role in the Trump-Russia affair, was an avid international networker and prone to boasting about his connections. Besides developing his Russian contacts, he got himself photographed alongside the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and claimed to be a “member” of the Clinton Foundation in the US.

When investigating Mifsud’s activities it can be difficult to work out which of his many connections were significant and which were simply a case of trying to make himself look important.

One claim – in a biographical note on the website of Stirling University, where Mifsud was employed for a while – is that he “served as the President of the Comité du Risque instituted by the Republic of France at the Elysée [presidential palace] from 2009–2012”.

The claim sounds fanciful and, following inquiries by BuzzFeed News last November, a French official said the president’s office could find no trace of a Joseph Mifsud or the existence of a ‘Comité du Risque’ in its records.

Now, however, new information has come to light which confirms that Mifsud was indeed head of a “risk” committee and that the committee held at least one of its meetings in the Elysée Palace.

The photograph above, discovered by Chris Blackburn and posted on Twitter, originally appeared on the website of the Institut Euro-Méditerranéen en Science du Risque (Euro-Mediterranean Institute in Science of Risk). A note on the website indicated that the photo shows a meeting of the institute’s Strategic Orientation Council (COS) held at the French Presidency on 13 April 2012.

The website described Mifsud as president of the Strategic Orientation Council and named other members who attended, including several French presidential officials and a number of foreign ambassadors.

Mifsud can seen in the photograph at the far end of the table, on the right.

The institute describes itself as “a private higher education establishment” concerned with the risks caused by climate change, especially in developing countries. Mifsud’s Strategic Orientation Council, which no longer exists, appears to have served as the institute’s advisory board.

The institute was created in 2008 as part of the Union for the Mediterranean — a pet project of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy

This probably explains how Mifsud came to be involved. At the time he was head of the Slovenia-based Euro-Mediterranean University (Emuni) which was also set up in 2008 as part of Sarkozy’s Union for the Mediterranean project.

Mifsud’s time at Emuni came to an abrupt end in July 2012, when he left under a cloud. Emuni said he owed €39,332 for wrongly-claimed expenses, mobile phone “over-usage” and penalties regarding “incompliance”. According to an audit report, he had run up a mobile phone bill of €13,767 during one financial year, when the university’s upper limit was €3,600. Mifsud later dismissed this as a “non-issue” stirred up by political enemies.

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: Author of 'Arabs Without God'.

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