A Russian businessman has lost his libel suit in the High Court against a former MI6 officer who wrote a report on Donald Trump’s alleged links with Russia.
Aleksey Gubarev sued Christopher Steele on “serious defamatory allegations” that he was “knowingly involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems” in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.
Mr. Steele was the author of the so-called “Steele Dossier”, which contained allegations that the US President had been “compromised” by the Russian security service FSB and had participated in “perverse sexual acts arranged / monitored by the FSB”.
The dossier also alleged that Russian President Vladimir Putin “supported and directed” an operation to “cultivate” Mr. Trump as a presidential candidate for “at least five years.”
Mr. Gubarev and his company Webzilla took legal action against Mr. Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence, a corporate intelligence company co-founded by Mr. Steele, after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.
In a remote judgment delivered on Friday, Justice Warby dismissed Mr Gubarev’s lawsuit.
The judge said references to Mr. Gubarev in the Steele dossier “are defamatory to Mr. Gubarev under general law and his publication in this jurisdiction and in the EU is seriously damaging his reputation”.
However, Mr. Justice Warby added: “He would have been entitled to substantial damages if he had shown that the defendants were legally responsible for the disputed publication.
“But he didn’t prove that.
“So Mr. Gubarev’s lawsuit must be dismissed.”
The judge said Webzilla’s lawsuit against Mr. Steele and Orbis “must be dismissed for the same reason.”