• The dossier was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and was used as the basis for an investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia
  • The judge ruled Steele had not done an adequate job of vetting the allegations
  • His company, Orbis Business Intelligence, said it would incorporate the judge's ruling in its operations

A London judge ruled Wednesday an allegation in the so-called Steele dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia was inaccurate and misleading.

The allegation made by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of a opposition research report commissioned by Democrats was not thoroughly vetted, Judge Mark Warby ruled.

The report alleged Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven arranged for “large amounts of illicit cash” to be funneled to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he was deputy mayor in St. Petersburg during the 1990s.

In a lawsuit filed in March, the pair argued the allegation was “demonstrably false,” and the report violated the English data protection law. The judge ruled Steele should have been more “energetic” in checking out the allegations.

Fridman, Aven and a third director of their Alfa Group, German Khan, lost a U.S. libel suit over the dossier. Fridman, who said he was considered an outsider in Russian power circles because of his Jewish heritage and Ukraine birth, said the allegation effectively barred him from doing business in the U.S.

“Ever since these odious allegations were first made public in January 2017, my partners and I have been resolute and unwavering in our determination to prove that they are untrue, and through this case, we have finally succeeded in doing so,” Fridman said in a statement.

Fridman testified he is just a businessman and does not do Putin’s bidding, nor has he sought political favors.

Steele was hired by the Washington research firm Fusion GPS in June 2016 to investigate Trump’s relationship with Russia.

Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence said in a statement posted on Twitter the ruling would not interfere with its operations, and noted the relatively small fine indicates the judge agreed the company acted lawfully in compiling the dossier and was not responsible for the wider distribution of the report and its publication. The firm pledged to incorporate the judge’s findings in future investigations.

Warby ordered Orbis to pay $22,600 each to Fridman and Aven in damages. No compensation was awarded to Khan.

The Steele dossier alleged Trump had been the target of recruitment and blackmail by Moscow and served as a basis for an FBI investigation. Steele told investigators his reports were compiled from raw intelligence and had not be vetted, and the person who supplied the information might have been embellishing his story.