Steele was the author of the so-called “Steele dossier,” that made extravagant allegations about contacts between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russian officials and said that Trump engaged in “perverted sexual acts” which were monitored by Russian security services. Many of the allegations were never proven.
Trump previously dismissed the dossier as “fake news” and called Steele a “failed spy.”
In filings to London’s High Court, Trump denies all of the allegations in the report and is seeking unspecified compensation for inflicting “personal and reputational damage and distress.”
Trump’s lawyers said in their filing that he was “compelled to explain to his family, friends, and colleagues that the embarrassing allegations about his private life were untrue. This was extremely distressing for the Claimant.”
The former president, who is fighting several cases in U.S. federal and state courts, was not expected to appear at London’s High Court for the two-day hearing.
Lawyers for Orbis, a London-based firm founded by former British intelligence professionals, are seeking to have the case thrown out on the grounds that it doesn’t have a real prospect of succeeding.
Steele is a former British spy who at one point was in charge of the service’s Russia desk. He wrote the report for a private investigation firm at the behest of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The dossier was leaked to BuzzFeed, which published it in early 2017. After Steele was revealed as the person who assembled the report, he briefly went into hiding.