Gay billionaire Peter Thiel’s ‘Gawker-killer’ lawyer is now suing a newspaper for Melania Trump

The lawyer employed by gay billionaire Peter Thiel to “destroy” Gawker Media has been hired by First Lady Melania Trump to sue a newspaper.

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel last year admitted secretly funding a multi-million dollar lawsuit that forced online news giant Gawker Media into bankruptcy, as “revenge” over coverage that referenced his sexuality.

The businessman was openly gay at the time of Gawker’s articles in 2007, but believed his privacy had been “violated” by the outlet, beginning a decade-long battle to force the publisher out of business.

He succeeded after funding a lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan, who was awarded massive damages after Gawker published a video of him having sex with a friend’s wife.

The lawyer that led Thiel’s legal battle, Charles Harder, has now filed a new case on behalf of Melania Trump, seeking damages from the Daily Mail for reporting since-retracted allegations that the First Lady has been employed as a sex worker.

The suit, filed in New York, accuses Mail Online of publishing the article “for the purpose of gaining a tremendous economic benefit through the resulting increase in web traffic to its article, and the corresponding advertising revenue”.

It alleges: “As a result of Defendant’s publication of defamatory statements about Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s brand has lost significant value, and major business opportunities that were otherwise available to her have been lost and/or substantially impacted.”

The lawsuit claims the economic impact of the story on Mrs Trump had run to “many millions of dollars”, suggesting that it had scuppered her a “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… to launch a broad-based commercial brand, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships”.

It adds: “These product categories would have included, among other things, apparel, accessories, shoes, jewlry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.”

Mrs Trump’s lawsuit also claims the story “impugned her fitness to perform her duties as First Lady of the United States”.

Both the lawsuit and the apparent admission that the First Lady sees her profile as a marketing opportunity have both sparked criticism from opponents.

The Daily Mail has not responded to the lawsuit.