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UK court dismisses Trump’s ‘Steele dossier’ suit against ex-spy alleging Russia links, ‘perverted sex acts’

In World
February 01, 2024

A UK judge on Thursday dismissed a claim by Donald Trump against a former spy who compiled a salacious dossier containing allegations of the former US president’s links to Russia.

Trump took legal action against Christopher Steele’s company Orbis Business Intelligence, but High Court judge Karen Steyn said there were “no compelling reasons” to allow the claim to go to trial.

“In my view, there are no compelling reasons to allow the claim to proceed to trial in circumstances where, whatever the merits of the allegation that the personal data are inaccurate may be, the claim for compensation and/or damages … is bound to fail.”

Similarly, she threw out Trump’s claim for compensation.

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“In reality, the claimant is seeking court findings to vindicate his reputation in circumstances where has not been able to formulate any viable remedy which he would have a real prospect of obtaining, or which would itself be of any utility; and having chosen to allow many years to elapse – without any attempt to vindicate his reputation in this jurisdiction – since he was first made aware of the dossier, including the memoranda, on 6 January 2017.”

The so-called Steele dossier sparked a political firestorm when it was published just before Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

It contained unverified and controversial information about Trump and Russia that the former Republican leader has repeatedly denied, including allegations of sexual misbehaviour.

Trump said in a witness statement made public in October that he brought the case to prove claims in the so-called Steele dossier, published by the BuzzFeed website in 2017, that he engaged in “perverted sexual acts” in Russia, are false.

Former UK intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London on July 24, 2020, to attend a defamation trial. Photo: TNS

Steele, ran the Russia desk of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service known as MI6, was the author of the so-called Steele dossier, which included denied allegations that Trump had been “compromised” by the Russian security service, the FSB.

At a hearing in London last year, the court was told Trump was bringing his case over two memos in the dossier which claimed he had taken part in “sex parties” while in St Petersburg and engaged in “golden showers” with prostitutes in Moscow.

But lawyers for Orbis asked for Trump’s claim to be thrown out, telling the court it was “brought for the purpose of harassing Orbis and Mr Steele and pursuing long-standing grievances.”

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The dossier also alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin “supported and directed” an operation to “cultivate” Trump as a presidential candidate for “at least five years”.

Some of the allegations fuelled a probe by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller, which concluded in 2019 that the Russian government had interfered with the 2016 election but found no evidence of collusion with Trump’s team.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the Steele dossier, which was leaked to Buzzfeed, as “fake”. The New York Times has determined there was no corroborating evidence to support many of its claims.

Trump claims the leaked dossier that was published on BuzzFeed was “fake”. Photo: AFP

Trump claimed that Orbis unlawfully processed his personal data, and sought unspecified compensation for “serious distress and reputational damage”.

The company argued it was not responsible for the dossier’s publication.

The dossier, produced before Trump’s 2016 election win against Hillary Clinton, was commissioned by Democratic Party consultants.

Trump sued Clinton, Democratic Party leaders and Steele in the US over the report in 2022.

Reporting by Agence France-Presse, Reuters, dpa

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