The former MI6 agent behind the controversial Trump dossier has returned to work, nearly two months after its publication caused an international scandal and furious denials from Washington and Moscow.
Christopher Steele posed for a photograph outside the office of his business intelligence company Orbis in Victoria, London on Tuesday. Speaking for the first time since his dossier was revealed, Steele said he had received messages of support.
“I’m now going to be focusing my efforts on supporting the broader interests of our company here,” he told the Press Association. “I’d like to say a warm thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages and support over the last few weeks.”
Steele, who left British intelligence in 2009 and co-founded Orbis with an MI6 colleague, said he would not comment substantively on the contents of the dossier: “Just to add, I won’t be making any further statements or comments at this time.”
Published in January by BuzzFeed, the dossier suggested that Donald Trump’s team had colluded with Russian intelligence before the US election to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Citing unidentified sources, it said Trump had been “compromised” by Russia’s FSB spy agency during a trip to Moscow in 2013.
It alleged that Trump was secretly videoed with Russian prostitutes in a suite in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow. The prostitutes allegedly urinated on the bed used by Barack Obama during a presidential visit.
Trump dismissed the dossier as fake news and said Steele was a “failed spy”. Vladimir Putin also rejected the dossier. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Russia did not collect kompromat – compromising material – on Trump or anyone else.
Steele’s friends say he has been keen to go back to work for some weeks. They insist he has not been in hiding but has been keeping a low profile to avoid paparazzi who have been camped outside his family home in Surrey.
Several of the lurid stories about him that have appeared in the press have been wrong, said friends. The stories include claims that Steele met Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian dissident who was murdered in 2006 with a radioactive cup of tea, probably on Putin’s orders.
As head of MI6’s Russia desk, Steele led the inquiry into Litvinenko’s polonium poisoning, quickly concluding that this was a Russian state plot. He did not meet Litvinenko and was not his case officer, friends said.