UK judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit over dossier containing ‘shocking and scandalous claims’

LONDON (AP) — A judge in London on Thursday threw out a lawsuit by former U.S. President Donald Trump that accused a former British spy of making “shocking and scandalous claims” that were false and harmed his reputation.

Judge Karen Steyn said the case Trump filed against Orbis Business Intelligence should be dismissed. “There are no compelling reasons to allow the claim to proceed to trial,” she said.

The ruling comes as Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, faces legal problems on both sides of the Atlantic.

Orbis Business Intelligence was founded by Christopher Steele, who created a dossier in 2016 that contained rumors and uncorroborated allegations that caused a political storm just before Trump’s inauguration.

Trump said the dossier was fake news and a political witch hunt. He sought damages from Orbis for allegedly violating British data protection laws.

Steele, who once ran the Russia desk for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, was paid by Democrats to compile research that included salacious allegations that Russians could potentially use to blackmail Trump.

At a hearing in London in October, Trump’s lawyer said the former president filed his lawsuit over two memos in the dossier that claimed he had taken part in “sex parties” in St. Petersburg and consorted with sex workers in Moscow.

Attorney Hugh Tomlinson said the former president had “suffered personal and reputational damage and distress.”

Tomlinson said the dossier “contained shocking and scandalous claims about the personal conduct of President Trump” and included allegations he paid bribes to Russian officials to further his business interests. Trump’s case “is that this personal data is egregiously inaccurate,” he said.

In a written witness statement, Trump said the allegations were “wholly untrue” despite Steele’s assertions that they never were disproven,

Trump said he had not engaged in “perverted sexual behavior including the hiring of prostitutes … in the presidential suite of a hotel in Moscow,” taken part in “sex parties” in St. Petersburg, bribed Russian officials, or provided them with “sufficient material to blackmail me.” He also said he had not bribed, coerced or silenced witnesses.

Orbis said the lawsuit should be thrown out because the report was never meant to be made public and was published by BuzzFeed without the permission of Steele or Orbis. It also said the claim was filed too late.

The judge agreed, concluding 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,” Steyn said.

Orbis attorney Antony White argued during last year’s hearing that Trump had a “deep and intense animus against” Steele and the firm, as well as “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.”

A U.S. federal judge in Florida in 2022 dismissed a Trump lawsuit against Steele, 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and former top FBI officials, rejecting his claims that they helped concoct the Russia investigation that overshadowed much of his administration.

Trump is currently awaiting a verdict in a civil fraud trial in New York alleging he and company executives deceived banks, insurers and others by overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth to secure loans and make deals.

He also faces four separate criminal cases for allegations that include mishandling classified documents, trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and paying hush money to a porn actress to cover up an affair.

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