UK court rejects libel suit from Russian over Steele dossier

The Detroit News

London – Britain’s High Court on Friday dismissed a libel claim by a Russian businessman against the author of a report on U.S. President Donald Trump’s alleged links to Russia and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev sued former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his firm Orbis Business Intelligence for what he said were “seriously defamatory allegations” that he had “knowing involvement” in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems before the 2016 election.

This Tuesday, March 7, 2017 file photo shows Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London. No one has painted a more vivid or lurid portrait of a purported alliance between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia than Steele.

Judge Mark Warby ruled that the references to Gubarev in the Steele dossier were defamatory and their publication “caused serious harm to his reputation.” But he said Steele could not be held responsible for making the dossier public. It was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

Steele told the court at an earlier hearing that he felt “shock and horror” at BuzzFeed’s “reckless” publication of the dossier, which he had been commissioned to compile by a Washington research firm.

The judge said Gubarev “would have been entitled to substantial damages, if he had proved that the defendants are responsible in law for the publication complained of. But he has failed to prove that. “