LONDON — Donald Trump’s lawsuit over a dossier that alleged he engaged in “perverted sexual acts” and paid bribes to Russian officials was thrown out Thursday by a British High Court judge.
The 45th president brought a claim against Christopher Steele, a former British spy, and his consultancy, Orbis Business Intelligence, for alleged data protection breaches after the leak of a collection of documents dubbed the “Steele dossier.”
The documents made extravagant allegations about contacts between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russian officials. Many of the claims were never proved. One said Trump had “defiled” a Moscow hotel room bed that had been used by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Trump sues over Steele dossier, alleging reputational ‘damage and distress’
Trump’s lawyers described allegations in the report as “egregiously inaccurate” and said Trump was seeking damages for the infliction of “personal and reputational damage and distress.”
The court did not consider the accuracy of the dossier but said Trump’s case should be dismissed because it did not have a real prospect of succeeding.
Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is fighting several legal battles in U.S. federal and state courts.
In the British High Court judgment published Thursday, Judge Karen Steyn ruled that 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.”
She added that Orbis’s possession of copies of the dossier could not “sensibly” have caused Trump distress, not least because copies of it were floating around online. BuzzFeed published the dossier in early 2017.
“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,” she wrote.
In his witness statement shared in October, Trump wrote that he did not “engage in perverted sexual behavior including the hiring of prostitutes … in the presidential suite of a hotel in Moscow.” He also denied taking part in “sex parties” in St. Petersburg and said he did not “pay bribes to Russian officials in order to further my business interests.”
In an emailed statement to The Post on Thursday, Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, said that there wasn’t “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.’”
The president will “continue to fight for the truth and against falsehoods such as ones promulgated by Steele and his cohorts,” he said.
Antony White, a lawyer for Orbis, said Trump has made a number of personal attacks against Steele, whom Trump has called a “failed spy.”
According to the Press Association, a British news agency, White told a hearing that 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.”