Friday, December 1, 2023

UK court hears Trump suit against ex-spy's salacious dossier

UK court hears Trump suit against ex-spy's salacious dossier
October 16, 2023 Web Desk

LONDON (AFP) - A UK court on Monday began hearing a lawsuit brought by Donald Trump over a salacious dossier compiled by a former British MI6 agent that contained unproven allegations against the US ex-president.

Trump, 77, is suing Christopher Steele and the company he founded, over the report which sparked a political firestorm when it was published just before his inauguration in January 2017. The so-called Steele dossier contained unverified and controversial information about Trump and Russia that the former Republican leader has repeatedly denied.

It included allegations that Trump had been "compromised" by the Russian security service, FSB, and that Moscow had damning videotapes of Trump's sexual misbehaviour during a 2013 trip to the Russian capital.

It also claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin "supported and directed" an operation to "cultivate" Trump as a presidential candidate for "at least five years". Trump denounced the 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, currently the frontrunner to secure the Republican nomination for next year's White House race, filed a data protection claim against Steele and his Orbis Business Intelligence in Britain's high court in November last year.

It seeks unspecified compensation for "serious distress and reputational damage". Monday's hearing is the first of two days of preliminary hearings in which Orbis will argue that the case be dismissed. 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 over the dossier in March last year. In November, 2021, Igor Danchenko, a consultant and former researcher in Russian affairs at the Brookings Institution who was a key source for the dossier, was charged for lying to FBI investigators about his sources for the report.

Steele, 59, previously ran the Russia desk of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service known as  MI6.