UK

Donald Trump’s High Court claim over dossier allegations dismissed by judge

Mrs Justice Steyn gave the ruling on Thursday.

The judge ruled Donald Trump’s case was ‘bound to fail’
Donald Trump The judge ruled Donald Trump’s case was ‘bound to fail’ (Cillian Sherlock/PA)

Donald Trump’s data protection claim over allegations he took part in “perverted” sex acts and gave bribes to Russian officials has been dismissed by a High Court judge.

The former US president brought legal action against Orbis Business Intelligence, a consultancy founded by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, and sought compensation for distress.

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

At a hearing in London last year, the court was told Mr 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 Mr Trump’s claim to be thrown out, telling the court it was “brought for the purpose of harassing Orbis and Mr Steele and pursuing longstanding grievances”.

In a judgment on Thursday, Mrs Justice Steyn said: “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.”

Christopher Steele, founder of Orbis Business Intelligence, attended the hearing in Donald Trump’s claim last year
Donald Trump court case Christopher Steele, founder of Orbis Business Intelligence, attended the hearing in Donald Trump’s claim last year (Aaron Chown/PA)

She added: “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 dossier, made up of more than a dozen memos, was produced by Orbis in 2016 ahead of the US election which saw Mr Trump become president before it was leaked to and published by BuzzFeed in 2017.

Hugh Tomlinson KC, for Mr Trump, described the allegations in the memos – which also included a claim the 77-year-old had “defiled” a bed previously used by former president Barack Obama and his wife – as “egregiously inaccurate”.

Dismissing the claim, Mrs Justice Steyn said that the “mere fact” that Orbis had held copies of the memos could not cause Mr Trump distress.

“Mere storage of the memoranda by the defendant cannot sensibly be said to have had any impact on the claimant – if he was even aware of it – not least in circumstances where the memoranda are on the internet,” the judge added.

During the hearing, Antony White KC, for the consultancy, said the case had been brought to pursue a “vendetta” against Orbis and the former MI6 officer.

He said: “The claimant has a deep and intense animus against Mr Steele and Orbis, which is reflected in numerous vituperative public statements which he has made since the dossier was made public by BuzzFeed in 2017.”

Mr White added that Mr Trump “has a long history of repeatedly bringing frivolous, meritless and vexatious claims for the purpose of vexing and harassing perceived enemies and others against whom he bears a grudge”.