A UK High Court decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former US President Donald Trump against Orbis Business Intelligence, a British consultancy run by ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, has been welcomed by the consultancy.
The lawsuit, centered on a dossier compiled by Orbis that connected Trump to Russia, alleged inaccuracies and breaches of data protection rights.
Funded by Hillary Clinton’s Democrats and Trump’s political opponents, the dossier contained unverified claims of bribery and sex parties and was leaked to the media before Trump’s inauguration as president.
The ruling by Mrs Justice Steyn DBE in London did not pass judgment on the allegations but found that Trump’s claim had not been brought within the six-year limitation period. Orbis expressed delight over the ruling and asserted that the lawsuit should never have been pursued.
The consultancy accused Trump of engaging in vexatious litigation, attempting revenge, and suppressing free speech and legitimate investigations through such legal actions. Orbis emphasized its commitment to its sources and work, resisting any deterrence from what it termed “lawfare” practices.
A separate lawsuit filed by Trump against Orbis, Hillary Clinton, and FBI officials in 2022 was previously dismissed by a federal judge in Florida. Christopher Steele clarified that the dossier comprised intelligence-based memos not intended for publication.
The origins of the case trace back to 2016 when a US political consultancy commissioned Orbis to investigate potential Russian interference in the US general election. Steele, the former head of MI6’s Russia desk, shared his findings with the FBI and other officials.
The dossier, later published by BuzzFeed News, contained unverified claims suggesting a compromising relationship between Trump and the Kremlin. Trump, in his witness statement during the case, denied the allegations and emphasized that none of the events described in the dossier had occurred.
He argued that the document continued to cause him significant damage and distress. The former president also explained the delayed UK lawsuit, stating that his responsibilities as president had hindered him from pursuing legal action before 2023.
Antony White KC, representing Orbis, informed the court that Trump acknowledged the consultancy’s non-involvement in BuzzFeed’s publication of the dossier. Orbis contended that Trump’s lawsuit was an attempt to address longstanding grievances.
The broader context of the dossier’s scrutiny includes a 2019 US Department of Justice report casting doubts on the reliability of some of Steele’s reports and investigating the potential flow of Russian disinformation to Steele.
The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russian agents but highlighted instances where Trump might have obstructed justice during the investigation.