Updated Feb 1, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit against former U.K. spy Christopher Steele

Christopher Steele, ex-MI6 agent, centre, departs from the Royal Courts of Justice in London, UK, on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023.

British former MI6 agent Christopher Steele outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, England, in October. Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Trump's privacy lawsuit against former spy Christopher Steele and his consultancy firm was dismissed by a British High Court judge in London on Thursday.

The big picture: Trump's lawyers argued the controversial 2017 "Steele dossier," authored by the former MI6 agent that included salacious but unverified claims about the 2024 Republican primary front-runner, violated data protection laws.

  • The FBI used the dossier in efforts to acquire warrants for its investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government, and Trump's lawyers told the U.K. court that its "shocking and scandalous claims" caused him to suffer "personal and reputational damage and distress."
  • However, British Judge Karen Steyn said in her judgment there were "no compelling reasons" to allow the case Trump filed against Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, to proceed to trial.

Zoom in: Steyn wrote that she did not "consider or determine the accuracy or inaccuracy of the memoranda," but noted Trump had "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" in January 2017.

  • "The claim for compensation and/or damages ... is bound to fail."

What they're saying: Orbis Business Intelligence said in a statement it was "delighted" by the ruling in the case, which it said should never have been filed.

  • "Mr Trump has already been criticised by U.S. courts for pursuing vexatious litigation against us," the statement added.
  • "And we feel strongly that Mr Trump also brought this claim in an attempt to exact revenge on Orbis and to chill free speech and legitimate investigations."

The other side: "The high court in London has found that there was not even an attempt by Christopher Steele, or his group, to justify or try to prove, which they absolutely cannot, their false and defamatory allegations in the fake 'dossier'," Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement to media.

  • "The high court also found that there was processing, utilisation, of those false statements. President Trump will continue to fight for the truth and against falsehoods such as ones promulgated by Steele and his cohorts."

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