Roman Abramovich wins defamation suit against book publisher over claims that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered him to buy Chelsea FC

Billionaire Roman Abramovich wins defamation suit against book publisher over claims that Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered him to buy Chelsea FC

Book publisher, HarperCollins have apologized to billionaire businessman,  Roman Abramovich and settled out of court after he took legal action over claims in a book that he was ordered to buy Chelsea Football Club by Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The publisher has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a charity and make amendments to author Catherine Belton’s book titled ‘Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Turned on the West. ‘

Belton’s book includes claims that in 2003 Abramovich bought Chelsea for £150million on the personal orders of the Russian president Putin.

The former Financial Times journalist’s publication quotes exiled oligarch Sergei Pugachev – once dubbed ‘Putin’s Banker’ – as the source of the Chelsea FC claims, but Abramovich maintained the allegations were untrue and damaging both to him and the club.

Now, several references to Chelsea will be deleted or changed, making it clear that the allegation came from Pugachev and that there is no hard evidence to support the claim.

A judge had previously upheld Abramovich’s claims that the book contained nine statements against him that were defamatory.

The book will now be reprinted and the ebook updated.

A statement from Pugachev will remain in the reprint, but it will also be made clear that he and his testimony and statements at a previous case were discredited.

A HarperCollins statement said: ‘HarperCollins and Catherine Belton have settled their dispute with Roman Abramovich over certain passages in Putin’s People.

‘Since publication of the first edition of the book, HarperCollins has been made aware that the book contained some inaccurate information concerning Roman Abramovich.

‘HarperCollins has now amended the book to record the position more accurately, and include additional comments from Mr Abramovich’s spokesperson.

‘In particular, HarperCollins has amended the text concerning the reasons for Mr Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea Football Club. While the book always included a denial that Mr Abramovich was acting under anybody’s direction when he purchased Chelsea, the new edition will include a more detailed explanation of Mr Abramovich’s motivations for buying the club.

‘HarperCollins has also made clear in the book that there is no evidence, beyond the statements of the individuals themselves, supporting claims made to the author by Sergei Pugachev and two other unnamed individuals about the purchase of Chelsea Football Club.

‘Statements in the book that Boris Berezovsky had in fact been an owner of Sibneft have been corrected to make clear that, although this was a widely held view in Russia, this was found to be untrue by a UK High Court following an extensive trial in 2012, which (as the book always noted) found Berezovsky to be an ”inherently unreliable witness”.

‘In recognition of this error, HarperCollins has agreed to make a payment to charity.

‘The book has also been amended to make clear that Berezovsky was the public source of rumours regarding the splitting of proceeds from the sale of Sibneft and that this is not established fact.

‘HarperCollins and the author apologise that these aspects of the book were not as clear as they would have liked them to have been and are happy to have now clarified the text.’


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