This is one in a series of articles about the Trump-Russia affair and the characters involved.
Further evidence has emerged of connections between British MP Alok Sharma and Joseph Mifsud, the vanished “professor” at the centre of the Trump/Russia affair.
In 2015 Sharma gave a lecture at the now-closed London Academy of Diplomacy where Mifsud was director, according to a flyer circulated at the time.
The newly-discovered flyer advertises a series of weekly public lectures at the academy and lists Sharma as giving a lecture entitled “The UK General Election 2015 — A Guide for Diplomats”.
Sharma, who briefly served as a Foreign Office minister until June this year, acknowledges knowing Mifsud but says he only met him “a couple of times” and “briefly greeted” him at a Conservative party fundraising dinner in Sharma’s constituency last month.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson was guest speaker at the dinner. Ahead of the event Mifsud had emailed a colleague to say he would be “meeting Boris Johnson for dinner re Brexit” on that date, according to a report in the Observer.
The foreign secretary denies ever having “knowingly” met Mifsud, who is suspected of being a Russian intelligence “asset”. However, a photo posted on Facebook later showed Johnson at the dinner flanked by Mifsud on one side and businessman Prasenjit Kumar on the other.
Kumar is an associate of both Mifsud and Sharma. Sharma’s father, Dr Prem Sharma, OBE FRSA, is deputy chair of the governors at London School of Executive Training (LSET), a private institution owned by Kumar.
In 2009 another of Kumar’s business ventures, Halifax College (UK) Limited,
made donations to the Conservative party in Reading West amounting to £5,000. At the time, Reading West was a marginal constituency held by Labour. The following year, Alok Sharma captured it for the Conservatives.
Kumar has previously described Maltese-born Mifsud as one of his “good old friends”. On Facebook 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.
Intriguingly, Kumar also became a Facebook friend of Olga Polonskaya, the mysterious Russian woman who in March last year attended a meeting with Mifsud and Trump “adviser” George Papadopoulos posing as a niece of President Putin. When Kumar posted the photo of himself, Johnson and Mifsud on Facebook, Polonskaya “liked” it.
Kumar holds the rare distinction of having met Polonskaya face to face — twice. He told The Observer he initially met her at Link Campus University in Rome (also visited by Papadopoulos) where Mifsud held an academic post.
He added that he met her again at a shopping centre in London “about two and a half months ago”:
“I was with my family and we were going to the Westfield shopping centre and I said: ‘Yes, come and meet me there.’ She was going to translate my website — for the London Executive School [LSET] — from English into Russian so I could try and attract more Russian students. She did that: I just haven’t put it up yet.”
Sadly, it appears that Kumar and Polonskaya are no longer Facebook friends. Since coming under the spotlight Kumar has been busy purging his internet footprint to remove things that might interest investigators.
A few days ago the list of governors disappeared from the website of his executive training school and a check on his Facebook page this morning shows that he has deleted photos that included Mifsud, plus a photo of himself with prime minister Theresa May.