ONE of Scotland’s top journalism schools has ruled out a partnership with a Russian propaganda outlet – after emails showed it previously expressed interest in the idea.

Sputnik UK, which was described as a “Kremlin propaganda machine” by Nato, has made a number of attempts to build “partnerships” with Scottish universities.

It wanted students to go on work experience placements at its Edinburgh office, and also raised the prospect of its staff “delivering talks to students about digital media, journalism, world politics and current events which affect journalism”.

READ MORE: Russian propaganda outlet expelled from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

Its approaches to Glasgow Caledonian, Stirling and the University of the West of Scotland all proved fruitless – but bosses at Edinburgh Napier visited Sputnik’s office and said they were “interested in taking this to the next step”.

Emails obtained by the investigative website The Ferret show the programme leader for Napier’s BA Journalism course, Aleksander Kocic, met staff at Sputnik’s Exchange Tower base in Edinburgh in November last year.

He initially expressed concerns over Sputnik’s reputation, but following the meeting appeared to show interest in discussing the idea further, and asked for more information.

In an email sent in February, he put the plans on hold due to a “five-yearly programme review”.

However he added: “I am still very grateful to you and the team at Sputnik for contacting us and I hope to revisit this in the near future, hopefully around the end of the term in April/May.”

The emails, released under Freedom of Information laws, show staff at Napier invited Sputnik to their campus four months earlier to discuss “ways in which we could work together”, following an approach by the outlet.

The Kremlin-backed news agency wanted to offer work placements, class visits to its offices and talks by its staff at Napier’s campus.

READ MORE: Russian 'propaganda' news chief: our organisation has a reputation problem

In one internal email, a placement coordinator at Napier wrote: "Obviously Sputnik ultimately is controlled by the Russian Government so it's maybe a silly question but I hope there aren't any ethical issues?"

Asked about the meetings, Dr Diane Maclean, head of screen and media at Napier, told The Herald it would not be entering into a relationship with the outlet.

She said: “Informal discussions with Sputnik took place at a programme level but no student has undertaken a placement and, following closer scrutiny of the proposed arrangements by the wider team, we will not be entering into any partnership.”

A Sputnik spokesman rejected any suggestion that it was a “propaganda machine” for the Russian Government.

He said: “Sputnik UK is open to working and engaging with businesses and universities in Scotland, building positive relationships and creating partnerships.

“We are happy to speak with organisations and let them learn more about us, see how we operate and if establishing an association would be mutually beneficial.

“If there are universities who are interested, then great, and if not that’s okay as well. We are simply demonstrating our willingness to building relations and an openness to our organisation here in Edinburgh.”

He added: "However, there is an ongoing media and political campaign against Sputnik UK, where we have been vilified as an agent of subversion and a Kremlin 'propaganda machine', without any evidence whatsoever to support such allegations.

"In spite of a continued attempt to drive us to the Gulag, we are here to stay in Edinburgh."

READ MORE: Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce urged to expel Kremlin propaganda outlet

Sputnik was expelled from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce earlier this year following sustained pressure from politicians.

It has been widely accused of spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, and was last year banned from advertising on Twitter amid fears it attempted to interfere in the 2016 US election.

Intelligence officials have condemned it as a "a platform for Kremlin messaging".