US-Russia dossier already responsible for one death, claims lawyer

Trump and Putin
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

The publication of a controversial dossier about US President Donald Trump's alleged links with Russia has already resulted in a death, it has been claimed.

Glenn Simpson the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier written by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, was giving evidence to a congressional committee during a closed-door interview last year.

A transcript of his testimony was released by the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, who said making it public would "set the record straight".

Quizzed on whether he had taken any steps to assess the credibility of Mr Steele's sources, Mr Simpson declined to comment.

Coming to his defence, lawyer Joshua Levy said it was a "voluntary interview" and stated that he "wants to be very careful to protect his sources".

He added: "Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work."

The emergence of the dossier - containing a series of lurid claims that the Russians had gathered compromising material on the President prior to his election campaign - caused outrage in the Trump camp.

Mr Steele, who runs the London-based Orbis Business Intelligence, was temporarily forced into hiding when he was identified as the author.

The dossier was reportedly the result of an investigation initially funded by Republicans, who were trying to block Mr Trump from becoming the party's presidential candidate, before being taken over by Democrats after his nomination.

Mr Steele was said to have passed on his findings to both US and UK intelligence in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, due to concerns about national security for both countries.

Mr Trump has derided the dossier as politically motivated, and several Republican-led committees are investigating whether it formed the basis for the FBI's initial investigation into Russian election interference.

Democrats say those investigations are a distraction.