Donald Trump is seeking “a vindication” over denied allegations he took part in “perverted” sex acts and made bribes to Russian officials, the High Court has been told.
The former president of the United States, 77, is bringing a data protection claim against Orbis Business Intelligence – a consultancy founded by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele – and is seeking 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 allegations Mr Trump had been “compromised” by the Russian security service, the FSB.
At the start of a two-day hearing on Monday, the High Court was told Mr Trump is bringing his case over two memos in the dossier that claimed the former president had taken part in “sex parties” while in St Petersburg and engaged in “golden showers” with prostitutes in Moscow.
Hugh Tomlinson KC, for Mr Trump, described the allegations as “egregiously inaccurate” and said the property tycoon wants to give evidence in the London court to prove they are false.
The barrister said the “now notorious Steele 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.
Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele was the author of the so-called Steele dossier, which included allegations Mr Trump had been ‘compromised’ by the Russian security service – Aaron Chown/PA
In written submissions, Mr Tomlinson said Orbis is accused of unlawfully processing Mr Trump’s personal data, causing him “serious distress and reputational damage”.
He told the court: “President Trump begins this case because he seeks a vindication of his legal rights… that the statements in these memoranda are false.”
The court heard Mr Trump accepts Orbis is not responsible for the publication of the dossier – as it was leaked to and published by BuzzFeed – but claims his data was processed by the consultancy.
Mr Tomlinson later described Mr Trump as a “controversial figure”, adding: “He often expresses himself in very strong language… his interactions with the US legal system have been many and varied.
“None of this is relevant to the question of whether the personal data in question is accurate.”
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”.
Antony White KC, for the consultancy, said in written submissions the case “has no realistic prospect of success” and has been brought too late.
He added: “The claim for compensation is principally based on reputational damage allegedly suffered by the claimant.
“This claim is bound to fail on limitation grounds and because any reputational damage, and any resulting distress, allegedly suffered will have been caused by the BuzzFeed publication, for which the claimant accepts Orbis is not liable.”
‘Vendetta’ against Orbis
Mr White said the dossier was never intended to be made public and all copies of the memos held by Orbis were destroyed in 2017.
The barrister later said Mr Trump’s case had been brought to pursue a “vendetta” against Orbis and Mr Steele.
He continued: “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 said 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”.
The hearing before Mrs Justice Steyn is set to conclude on Tuesday, with a decision expected at a later date.
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