Former British spy to give evidence for BuzzFeed libel trial in US


Re: Gubarev & Ors v Buzzfeed Inc & Anor [2018] EWHC 512 (QB)

This case concerned an application by Mr Steele a former “Crown Servant” to set aside or vary the order dated 9 Nov 2017, for ‘evidence to be taken by way of oral examination’ from him pursuant to CPR 34.18. The order was made in response to a “letter of request” by the States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, for Mr Steele to give evidence in connection with a libel claim concerning a dossier of memoranda relating to the 2016 US presidential election.

It had been argued that the lengthy pre-trial questioning session could put potential intelligence sources at great risk and that the planned seven-hour examination amounted to an oppressive “fishing expedition”. Also, it would breach his ECHR, art 6 rights.

Senior Master Fontaine rejected the application to set aside the Nov 2017 order but granted the application to vary it in part, having concluded that Mr Steele did have relevant evidence to give for trial in the US proceedings, and the order could be amended to afford further protection to Mr Steele.

Alex Bailin QC, Edward Craven, Gavin Millar QC and Ben Silverstone.