Publisher and author apologise to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich over Putin claim

HarperCollins agreed to make a payment to charity in lieu of damages


LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is seen on the stand during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on December 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has settled a libel dispute with HarperCollins and Putin’s People author Catherine Belton, receiving an apology from both. 

The High Court ruled last month that the 2020 book charting Vladimir Putin’s rise to power contained nine defamatory statements about Mr Abramovich, including that he bought the Premier League club in 2003 on Vladimir Putin’s instructions. 

A spokesperson for the 55 year-old businessman said: “We are pleased that today’s changes and the resulting apology address the false allegations made on this subject and look forward to further developing Chelsea’s many positive initiatives in the UK, most notably our programmes combatting antisemitism and racism.” 

The statement added that Mr Abramovich's ambition with Chelsea FC had “always been clear and transparent: to create world-class teams on the pitch and to ensure the club plays a positive role in all of its communities.”

As part of the settlement, more than 1,700 words were added or deleted, with the publisher also agreeing to make a payment to charity in lieu of damages.

HarperCollins said on Wednesday that “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 [former Putin aide] Sergei Pugachev and two other unnamed individuals about the purchase of Chelsea Football Club.”

Other statements about Mr Abramovich’s former oil firm Sibneft and the late Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky were also corrected. 

The publisher said: “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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