Trump dossier author credible, report less so: Sources

A police car drives past an address which has been linked by local media to former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who has been named as the author of an intelligence dossier on President-elect Donald Trump, in Wokingham, Britain, on
A police car drives past an address which has been linked by local media to former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who has been named as the author of an intelligence dossier on President-elect Donald Trump, in Wokingham, Britain, on Jan 12, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The former British spy reported to be behind a dossier against US President-elect Donald Trump has a strong reputation but the report raises serious doubts, sources said on Thursday (Jan 12).

Several media reported that the report was written by Christopher Steele, a former employee of the MI6 intelligence service and a co-director of the Orbis Business Intelligence consultancy in London.

"I do know these guys and they have a good reputation. There's no way they would have made up the dossier," a source close to the British intelligence services told AFP.

"However, I can't say the same about their sources. Also, the dossier is not credible because it's not caveated," the source said, meaning the authors did not acknowledge the potential weaknesses of their own findings.

The Guardian said Steele was "one of the more eminent Russia specialists" at MI6, adding that he spent two years in Moscow in the early 1990s.

The Daily Telegraph said he had worked under diplomatic cover at the British embassy in Moscow.

"The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false, completely untrue. Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional," the Guardian quoted a former Foreign Office official and friend of Steele's as saying.

"He's not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip. If he puts something in a report, he believes there's sufficient credibility in it for it to be worth considering.

"Chris is a very straight guy. He could not have survived in the job he was in if he had been prone to flights of fancy or doing things in an ill-considered way."

A former intelligence officer now working in the private sector told AFP that a Russian sub-contractor may have been partly behind the dossier.

His assessment was that Steele was writing under time pressure and had to cut and paste material from the sub-contractor, explaining some of the grammatical and transcription errors in the writing.