A libel trial involving a former British spy was mistakenly live streamed around the world to people in the United States, Cyprus and Russia, it has emerged.
Christopher Steele, who set up an intelligence consultancy after leaving MI6, is being sued by a Russian businessman over part of his 2016 dossier which lifted the lid on alleged links between Donald Trump and Moscow.
But part of the trial, which took place at the High Court in London, ended up being broadcast around the world on the Zoom platform.
Senior judges have expressed concern over the matter and the lawyers responsible are to be investigated further over the alleged breach.
The trial, which took place in Court 72 of the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, featured the Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev, who is suing Mr Steele over elements of his dossier which was published by the BuzzFeed website in January 2017.
Because of social distancing restrictions there was not enough room in the courtroom itself to house the public and press so the judge, Mr Justice Warby made an order allowing proceedings to be viewed on Zoom in an adjoining court.
However he subsequently discovered that a solicitor, at a law firm representing Mr Gubarev, had sent the Zoom link to seven people, who watched part of the trial from various locations around the world, without his permission.
The judge asked two other judges to examine issues relating to the "professional conduct" of McDermott Will and Emery, the law firm representing Mr Gubarev, who lives in Cyprus.
Dame Victoria Sharp and Mrs Justice Andrews, who heard evidence at a High Court hearing in London last week, have raised a number of concerns and said an order made by Mr Justice Warby had been disobeyed.
The two judges said, in a ruling published yesterday (Thurs), that McDermott Will and Emery, which has offices in London and abroad, had referred the "matter" to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
They said the Zoom link had been sent to seven people connected to Mr Gubarev, including his wife and daughter in Cyprus, the mother of one of his business associates - who gave evidence at the trial - in Russia, and lawyers he used in the United States.
Judges said for three days proceedings had been live-streamed outside the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales without Mr Justice Warby's permission.
"This state of affairs is deeply worrying," said the two judges. "As McDermott Will and Emery has already referred this matter to the SRA, it is unnecessary for us to do so.
"We will nonetheless direct that a copy of this judgment is sent to the SRA so that this court's views of the seriousness of the breaches in this case can be made known to it."
Judges said the lawyer who had passed on the Zoom link had told of a "memory fade", had accepted responsibility and made a "full and unreserved apology".
They accepted that it was not a case of "deliberate defiance" of a court order.
Mr Justice Warby has not issued his ruling in the libel trial yet.