HarperCollins apologises to Roman Abramovich over Putin book

HarperCollins apologises to Roman Abramovich and agrees to make 1,700 changes to book claiming Vladimir Putin ordered him to buy Chelsea FC: Publisher will pay undisclosed sum to charity after settling defamation case

  • HarperCollins agreed to make more than 1,700 amendments to the book Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Turned on the West 
  • Catherine Belton’s book includes claims that Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea for £150million in 2003 on the personal orders of the Russian president
  • Author quotes exiled oligarch Sergei Pugachev  as the source of the claims 
  • Abramovich said the allegations were untrue and damaging to him and the club
  • HarperCollins has now agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a charity

HarperCollins have apologised to 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 Vladimir Putin.

The publishing giant has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a charity and make no fewer than 1,700 amendments to author Catherine Belton’s book Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Turned on the West. 

Belton’s book includes claims that in the early 2000s that Abramovich bought Chelsea for £150million in 2003 on the personal orders of the Russian president. 

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 2020 publication will now be reprinted and the ebook updated. 

HarperCollins have apologised to Roman Abramovich and settled out of court after he took legal action

It will be without a number of statements which alleged the purchase of the west London club ‘was an entrance into the House of Lords’ and that ‘the West hadn’t known that when Abramovich bought Chelsea he may have been acting on Kremlin orders’. 

Catherine Belton’s book Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Turned on the West

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: ‘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.’ 

It added: ‘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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