Trump in breach of £300k legal costs ruling after losing UK case against ex-MI6 spy

Donald Trump is in breach of a British High Court order to pay £300,000 in legal costs to the former spy who compiled a salacious dossier alleging Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Sky News can reveal Trump has failed to comply with the costs order and thus far ignored a formal offer to settle with Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled the infamous document.

Trump was ordered to pay costs in February after the High Court threw out his attempt to sue Mr Steele’s company Orbis Business Intelligence.

The former president claimed the report, which included unsubstantiated allegations of bribery and that he used sex workers while on a trip to Moscow, contained inaccuracies and breached his rights under the Data Protection Act.

The judge, Mrs Justice Steyn, did not make any judgment on the allegations but ruled the claim was invalid because it was filed after the six-year limitation period. Trump was subsequently also denied leave to appeal.

On the judge’s order, Trump did pay £10,000 to the court as security against costs ahead of the hearing, which was transferred to Mr Steele in February.

In March, Orbis made a formal offer to settle using the civil court Part 36 procedure, but Trump’s lawyers have not responded.

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“The fact is we were awarded a £300,000 initial cost order in February, which was confirmed when his right of appeal was turned down at the end of March. And so he’s been in breach of that order for two months now,” Mr Steele told Sky News.

“Cost is the key issue in all litigation, and particularly in what we call lawfare, which we think this is. It is an attempt to take vengeance against us or to keep us quiet,” he said.

Mr Steele is shown leaving court
Christopher Steele leaving court in February

Mr Steele, a former head of MI6’s Russia desk, was commissioned to produce the document by Trump’s political opponents including Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party.

It collated what he says was a “running commentary” on the Russian view of Trump and the election campaign, drawn from multiple intelligence sources.

Much of the information in the dossier was unverified and Mr Steele says it was never intended for publication.

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Following the election it was leaked to the media by a conservative politician with whom it had been shared. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.

“We stand by the sources we were running and the work we did and the way we handled it,” Mr Steele said. “It’s important to underline that it wasn’t meant for publication. It was leaked by an American Republican who we’d entrusted with it without our permission or our knowledge, and we’ve been involved in litigation as a result ever since.”

The revelation that Trump is in breach of a UK court order comes after he became the first US president to be convicted of a felony. He was found guilty of charges relating to hush money paid to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels last week.

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Voters react over Trump conviction

He is appealing that verdict and faces three other live legal proceedings in the US in the build-up to November’s election.

Were he to be elected, it raises the prospect of his returning to the UK as president in defiance of a British court.

Mr Steele says he has no means of recouping his costs from UK assets owned by Trump, because the golf courses that bear his name in Scotland are held in trust structures.

If Trump does not settle, Mr Steele’s only option would be to seek repayment in the US, incurring further costs.

“We’re talking about perhaps the next president of the US here, who is running for office and claims to love and respect the UK, and in fact is treating our legal system with contempt,” he said.

“I think he’s trying to put off a lot of these legal cases and these fines and these costs until after what he thinks will be his re-election in November, in which case he will just tell us all to go and jump, basically.”

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Trump’s press secretary and his private office failed to respond to Sky News’ request for comment.

Following the initial judgment, a spokesman for the former president told the BBC he would “continue to fight for the truth and against falsehoods such as the ones promulgated by Steele and his cohorts”.

“The High Court in London has found that there was not even an attempt by Christopher Steele, or his group, to justify or try to prove, which they absolutely cannot, their false and defamatory allegations in the fake ‘dossier,” he added.

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