A Russian technology entrepreneur on Friday lost a UK libel case against a former MI6 intelligence officer whose dossier on Donald Trump's alleged links to Moscow played into attempts to impeach the U.S. president.
Aleksej Gubarev had sued Christopher Steele for defamation for claiming he had "knowing involvement" in the hacking of Democratic party emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Judge Mark Warby found that the allegation, which Gubarev denied, was indeed defamatory. But he said Steele was not legally responsible for the secret dossier's publication by the news site BuzzFeed in January 2017.
"So, Mr. Gubarev's claim must be dismissed," the High Court judge said, rejecting the case against both Steele and his consultancy, Orbis Business Intelligence.
Russian security services allegedly used Gubarev's Cyprus-registered internet provider Webzilla to hack into the campaign of Trump's 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.
The stolen data proved damaging to Clinton when they were released by Julian Assange's WikiLeaks website in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Steele's firm Orbis compiled raw intelligence commissioned by Trump's rivals during his presidential campaign.
Some of its findings were used by special counsel Robert Mueller to conduct a two-year investigation that found evidence of Russian interference but no collusion with Trump's campaign.
And some of its highly salacious allegations were aired in Democrats' subsequent failed attempt to impeach Trump in the U.S. Congress.
During the libel trial, Steele said he would have done "whatever I could do to prevent" BuzzFeed from publishing his dossier, had he known its reporters had a copy.
The former member of Britain's MI6 overseas intelligence agency went into hiding after its publication and still rarely speaks in public.
Gubarev lost a separate case against BuzzFeed in a Miami federal court in December 2018.