·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Political Litigation

U.K. Judge Orders Trump to Repay $382,000 in Legal Expenses After Steele Dossier Lawsuit Fails

— March 8, 2024

A London-based court had dismissed Trump’s lawsuit in early February, finding that there was no compelling reason to let the case proceed to trial.

A London-based judge has ordered former U.S. President Donald Trump to pay $382,000 in compensation to Orbis Business Intelligence, a British company founded by the former British spy behind the “Steele dossier.”

According to The Associated Press, Trump’s complaint was dismissed last month, with the presiding judge opining that the lawsuit was “bound to fail” since its inception.

“There are no compelling reasons to allow the claim to proceed to trial,” wrote High Court Judge Karen Steyn in her February 1 decision. “The claim for compensation and/or damages is bound to fail.”

As has reported before, Trump’s failed attempt at litigation involved a collection of documents compiled by former MI6 operative Christopher Steele.

In the prelude to the 2016 presidential election, Steele—who was not longer employed by British intelligence, and had since founded his own company, Orbis Business Intelligence—was contracted by Democratic Party officials to locate, compile, and analyze information that could be used to damage Trump’s standing with the American public.

A man in a suit stands at a podium, pointing.
Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

Steele’s investigation uncovered limited evidence suggesting that Trump had, among other things, taken part in “sex parties” in the Russian port city of St. Petersburg, and paid frequent visits to prostitutes in Moscow. His findings, compiled into the so-called “Steele dossier,” were never corroborated.

However, the Steele dossier was nonetheless leaked to the press, with its findings published by BuzzFeed.  The nature of its allegations caused some alarm in the United States—especially among Democrats, who theorized that the Russian government could be positioned to blackmail Trump if he ascended to higher office.

Trump, who had maintained since the dossier’s release that its conclusions were “fake news,” sued Steele and Orbis in 2023. In his complaint, Trump said that he had been “compelled to explain to his family, friends, and colleagues that the embarrassing allegations about his private life were untrue. This was extremely distressing.”

Attorneys for the former U.S. president also emphasized that Steele’s report—which contained not only speculation of Trump’s participation in sex parties, but allegations that Trump had paid bribes to secure his business interests in Russia—failed to ensure the accuracy of informant-sourced information.

“The claimant did not engage in an unorthodox behavior in Russia and did not act in a way that Russia authorities were provided with material to blackmail him,” attorneys wrote in the 2023 lawsuit. “The personal data is not accurate. Further, the Defendant failed to take all reasonable steps to insure [sic] the personal data was accurate.”

In response, Orbis argued that Trump had waited far too long to file claims for reputational damage in a British court, saying the litigation served no purpose beyond addressing “longstanding grievances” against the company and its founder. Steele, for his part, said the claims in the dossier would have been subject to further investigation, and that its findings were not supposed to have been publicized.

The lawsuit was resolved quickly and in Orbis’s favor.

Earlier this week, a recently-released set of court documents indicates that Orbis Business Intelligence estimated that it had incurred an estimated $816,000 in legal expenses, of which it requested that Trump be compelled to repay $569,000.

However, High Court Judge Karen Steyn found Orbis’s request excessive, citing the fact that—outside of preparation and documents exchange—the case had culminated in little more than a one-day hearing, and subsequently directed that Trump to reimburse a lesser amount of $382,000.


‘Damage and Distress’: Trump Sues Over Russia Dossier in London

Donald Trump’s lawsuit over ‘Steele dossier’ thrown out by UK court

Trump is ordered to pay legal fees after failed lawsuit over the Steele dossier

Trump ordered to pay $382,000 in legal fees for failed ‘Steele Dossier’ lawsuit

Trump sues former British spy behind controversial Russia dossier

UK court orders Trump to pay legal fees of company he sued over controversial Russia dossier

Join the conversation!