Book claim that Abramovich bought Chelsea on Putin’s orders is defamatory, judge rules

2
  • Book on Putin is defamatory – judge
  • Abramovich says “false” claims should be corrected
  • Book claims Abramovich tried to court docket Trump
  • HarperCollins contemplating the judgement

LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Claims in a e book about President Vladimir Putin that billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea Football Club on the orders of the Kremlin to unfold Russian affect in Britain are defamatory, a British judge dominated on Wednesday.

In the 2020 e book, British journalist Catherine Belton chronicles Putin’s rise to energy and what number of of his associates from the previous Soviet spy providers rose to positions of wealth and affect after he received the highest Kremlin job in 1999.

A lawyer for Abramovich had argued in court docket that passages within the e book “Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and then Took on the West”, printed by HarperCollins, have been clearly defamatory. Abramovich is suing each HarperCollins and Belton.

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“The impression that the reader has is that the Kremlin used the purchase of Chelsea Football Club to gain acceptance and influence for Russia in the UK,” Judge Amanda Tipples stated in a judgement.

“The underhand way in which this was achieved was to use the claimant, someone who was seen as the acceptable face of Russian business, as the front for it. That was my impression when I read the book,” the judge stated. “The meanings I have identified are all defamatory of the claimant at common law.”

The judge was deciding what an inexpensive and extraordinary reader would perceive was the that means of sure disputed passages within the e book. The passages will kind the premise of a defamation trial the place the creator and writer must defend their use.

The judge stated the court docket was solely deciding on the that means of the passages – not whether or not or not the allegations made within the e book have been true or not. The defendants haven’t but been required to file a defence.

The judge additionally dominated that an extraordinary reader would perceive from the e book that Abramovich had been despatched to the United States by Putin to affect the household of former U.S President Donald Trump on behalf of Russia.

“The ordinary reasonable reader will understand that the claimant was sent to New York on the direction of President Putin to influence the family of Donald Trump on behalf of Russia,” the judge stated.

Trump’s marketing campaign didn’t reply to a request for remark.

‘PUTIN’S PEOPLE’

“We welcome today’s judgment which rules that the book ‘Putin’s People’ indeed makes several defamatory allegations about Mr Abramovich, including false allegations about the nature of the purchase of Chelsea Football Club,” a spokesperson for Abramovich stated.

“Today’s judgment further underscores the need for the false and defamatory claims about Mr. Abramovich to be corrected as soon as possible,” the spokesperson stated.

HarperCollins stated it was contemplating the judgement.

“HarperCollins is carefully considering the judgement on the meaning hearing handed down this morning by Mrs Justice Tipples regarding the book Putin’s People by Catherine Belton, an acclaimed work of considerable public interest,” it stated.

“We are pleased that the judge has found three of the four passages complained of by the Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) do not bear a meaning defamatory of the company,” HarperCollins stated.

The judge dominated that the e book didn’t libel Rosneft by describing its battle with YUKOS, one other oil agency, as a result of the that means of the e book was that Igor Sechin, one in all Putin’s high advisers and chief of a Kremlin clan of former spies often known as the “siloviki”, slightly than Rosneft, was behind the assault on YUKOS.

Rosneft didn’t reply to requests for remark. Sechin, who is now head of Rosneft, couldn’t be reached for remark.

The judge did rule that the that means of a claim within the e book that Rosneft had made an overpayment of $300 million to accumulate oil firm Severnaya Neft in 2003 was defamatory.

“The meaning I have identified is defamatory of the claimant at common law,” the judge stated as she understood the e book to imply that the overpayment of $300 million can be paid to Putin or his KGB associates.

Belton, a former Financial Times Moscow correspondent and now a Reuters particular correspondent, declined to remark.

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood

Britain Football Soccer - Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League - Stamford Bridge - 21/5/17 Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the stands Action Images via Reuters / John Sibley Livepic

Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea vs Crystal Palace - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - March 10, 2018   Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the stands   Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Britain Football Soccer - Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League - Stamford Bridge - 21/5/17 Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the stands Action Images via Reuters / John Sibley Livepic