The British spook in hiding after allegedly producing the Donald Trump ‘dirty dossier’ is nursing his own secret heartache, MailOnline can reveal.
Christopher Steele, 52, set up his company Orbis Business Intelligence on March 16, 2009 – just six months before the death of his ‘cherished wife’ Laura, mother of his three young children.
She died in 2009 aged 43, from cirrhosis of the liver after seven years of ill health.
Since then the former diplomat, who has been based in Moscow, London and Paris, has kept a low profile.
But this week, he was unmasked by a US publication as the author of a 35-page document, which alleged that the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s presidential campaign.
It claimed that the Russian security services could blackmail the President-Elect with allegations that he paid prostitutes to defile a bed, once slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Now the Mail online has pieced together the extraordinary story of the man, who has spent the past 30 years of his life working in the shadows but has now been thrust into the limelight amidst fears for his personal safety after a backlash from Moscow.
Born on June 24, 1964, the son of Lionel and Janet Steele, Christopher David grew up in Surrey with his older sister Alison, now 55, and younger sister Claire, 49.
He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in 1987, at the age of 23, and met his future wife Laura, who worked in personnel at the accountacy firm Peat Marwick McLintock, the following year on a double date with close friend and fellow accountant Neil and Laura’s boss Sue.
Spook and his late wife: Former British spy Christopher Steele, 52, is allegedly the author into a dirty dossier into Donald Trump. His late wife Laura mother of his three children moved with him to Moscow in 1990. She died in 2009 from cirrhosis of the liver
Monitored: Steele, was posted to Moscow aged 26 in 1990, just months after marrying first wife Laura following a whirlwind romance. Laura complained that the feared Soviet secret police monitored them – and that at one stage a Russian aimed its gun directly at their flat
Russian links: Cambridge graduate Steele, a father of three, who was Second Secretary (Chancery), worked closely with Sir Tim Barrow, now Theresa May’s EU Ambassador, in the cramped old British Embassy across the Moscow River from the Kremlin, pictured
Intimidated: Steele’s wife, who died in 2009, complained that the Russian secret services kept tabs on them during their three-year spell in Moscow – and even broke into their flat and stole a pair of high heels she was due to wear to dinner
Laura was the daughter of Russian-speaking nuclear physicist David Hunt, who met the Queen after designing a high power laser at Britain’s Atomic Weapon Establishment.
The pair were introduced by a mutual friend, Neil as part of a double date and they were engaged just eight months later.
Laura’s diary of that day 12th April 1988 read – lunch 12.30 Sue, Neil and ‘Chris Whatsit’.
Neil recalled: ‘I failed absolutely but “Chris Whatsit” was a fast mover – by Christmas he had proposed to Laura and the following July they married.
Soon after their wedding in Lambourn, Berkshire in 1990, the couple moved to Moscow when Steele, then 26, was made Second Secretary (Chancery).
He worked closely with Sir Tim Barrow, now Theresa May’s EU Ambassador, in the cramped old British Embassy across the Moscow River from the Kremlin.
It was a momentous time to be in Russia in the aftermath of perestroika and the run-up to the collapse of the Soviet Union when Boris Yeltsin became the first President of the Russian Federation.
‘The work was hard, the times were tough and there was constant harassment from the KGB,’ said Neil, Steele’s best man.
‘On one occasion, they even stole Laura’s favourite shoes – from their flat – just before an official dinner.
‘On the day Yeltsin stood on the tank to proclaim change I rang Laura up. I asked how she was. Characteristically she told me that Chris was fine because he’d been sent on the streets to find out what was going on.
‘What about you,’ I asked? ‘Fine,’ she said, and hesitated slightly before saying she was a little concerned about the tank 500 yards away with its large gun pointing at their block of flats!
Moscow mission: The couple’s friend, Neil, who was best man at their wedding in Lambourn, Berkshire in 1990, said it was a testing time in Russian and that within 18 months of arriving the Soviet Union had collapsed and the radical changes instigated by Boris Yeltsin were underway
Volatile time: It was a momentous period for the couple in the aftermath of perestroika and the run-up to the collapse of the Soviet Union where there were mass demonstrations and the following year when Boris Yeltsin became the first President of the Russian Federation
‘I visited Chris and Laura in Moscow and recall how proud Laura was of her art, her rug collection, her cat and her husband. And definitely in that order!’
After spending three years in Moscow, Steele returned to the UK in 1993 as Second Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He was later promoted to First Secretary. Barrow also returned to Britain as head of the FCO’s Russia Section that year.
The Steeles moved to Norwood, south east London, and had their two sons, Matthew and Henry before the couple were posted to Paris in 1998, where Steele worked as First Secretary (Financial). Daughter Georgina was born in France two years later.
‘They lived with the boys for a while in Annie Lennox’s apartment on rue Bonaparte before decamping to the beautiful village of Bougival up the Seine,’ recalled Neil.
‘This famously was impressionist country – both Monet and Renoir had lived and worked in their village.’
Their time in France was one of the happiest times in their marriage.
Dirty dossier: Steele is said to have been the former MI6 agent who compiled a dossier on Donald Trump (pictured) to discredit the incoming US President
But it was while they were living in France that Laura first fell ill. The couple moved back to England in 2002, settling first in Epsom, and later in Farnham.
But beset with health problems, Laura died in September 2009 at Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, leaving him with two sons aged 12 and 10 and a daughter, eight.
She was interred in a personal vault at Guildford Crematorium the following February, on what would have been her 44th birthday.
At her memorial service, her devastated husband Christopher read the poem She is Gone, by David Harkins, while her father David, penned a tribute himself.
Speaking at the time, her father David, 78, said: ‘Laura was a happy outgoing daughter with a wonderful personality.’
Six months before his wife’s death Steele set up his company Orbis Business Intelligence, with Christopher Burrows, a former diplomat, who has been posted to East Berlin, Bonn, Athens and Brussels.
Six months before his first wife’s death Steele, pictured with a female companion believed to be his second wife Katharine, set up his company Orbis Business Intelligence
Missing: The former MI6 agent was seen fleeing his gated Surrey home (pictured) in his car yesterday and appears to have been in such a rush most of the lights were left on
Office: Former MI6 agent Steele, who worked in Moscow in 1990, was allegedly commissioned to compile a dossier on Donald Trump through his firm Orbis Business Intelligence, pictured
Since his wife’s death, Steele has remarried to second wife Katharine and has kept a low profile. But his life changed the moment he agreed to work for a Washington firm, gathering information on Trump’s connections to Moscow.
This week, he was unmasked by a US publication as the author of a 35-page document, which alleged that the Kremlin colluded with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
It claimed that the Russian security services could blackmail the President-elect with allegations that he paid prostitutes to defile a bed, once slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Today his father-in-law David Hunt, who found out about his son-in-law’s connections to the presidential campaign on the BBC this morning, said: ‘I know nothing about this business. He’s never gone into any details about work at all. But of course, I am concerned about him.’