Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich settled his defamation lawsuit against journalist Catherine Bilton over her bestselling book The Putin People, after reaching an agreement late Tuesday night.
The text will now recognize that Abramovich’s allegations of buying Chelsea Football Club at the behest of the Russian president is not a statement of truth. It would include additional denials from the oligarch’s and club’s spokesperson.
It will also correct the claim that the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky co-owned the Russian oil company Sibneft with Abramovich. The amendment followed a legal battle in the Supreme Court in 2011-12 between the two men, which Abramovich won. She added that the book’s publisher, Harper Collins, had agreed to make a payment to charities “in recognition of this error.”
Abramovich sued a number of allegations, including that he bought Chelsea FC on the orders of Vladimir Putin. He was one of the three Russian business tycoons who initiated libel proceedings against Pelton and Harper Collins, along with the Russian state oil company Rosneft.
Subsequently, the other defendants settled or withdrew their claims. Abramovich ended his case after HarperCollins said on Wednesday that some information about the oligarch’s ruling was inaccurate. She agreed to do reviews of the book, which was widely acclaimed as the definitive work under Putin.
HarperCollins hailed the overnight settlement as a fair agreement. There are no compensations to be paid to Abramovich himself. Both sides will pay their own costs. If the libel trial continues in the High Court next year, the statutory bill could potentially exceed £10m, understandably.
The publisher said: “While the book has always included a denial that Mr Abramovich was acting under anyone’s supervision when he bought Chelsea FC, the new edition will include a more detailed explanation of Mr Abramovich’s motives for buying the club.
HarperCollins has also made clear in the book that there is no evidence, other than the statements of the individuals themselves, to support the author’s claims made by [the former Kremlin insider] Sergei Pugachev and two other unnamed individuals regarding the purchase of Chelsea Football Club.
HarperCollins acknowledged that the Supreme Court judge described Berezovsky as an “inherently unreliable witness.” “Harper Collins and the author apologize that these aspects of the book were not as clear as they would have liked them to be and would be happy to have cleared the script now,” she added.
Despite the reviews, the agreement is generally seen as a victory for Beltone, who has come under unprecedented legal assault from billionaires with ties to the Kremlin. Abramovich served for eight years as governor of Chukotka, a region in the Far East of Russia. He has consistently denied that he is under the control of the Russian government.
in the current situation“Last year felt like a war of attrition,” she said, as it was “bombed with lawsuits” from four Russian billionaires and Rosneft.
“Although the claimants denied it was coordinated, it seemed to me similar to the Kremlin’s multi-pronged campaign against Ukraine in which it sought to bleed the West into making security concessions over NATO expansion,” Bilton added.
She continued, “All along, HarperCollins has vigorously defended the book. I could not have wished for a better or braver publisher more committed to public interest journalism.”
Activists have described the case against Pelton as an abuse of the UK’s defamation system. Abramovich sued the former Financial Times journalist personally as well as her publisher.
The settlement took place following Abramovich’s approach, understandably. HarperCollins said that Pelton was always willing to include oligarchic comments on the allegations, and recognized that books on controversial contemporary topics needed to be updated as new information emerged.
At a preliminary hearing in November, Ms. Tables ruled that several passages in the book that Abramovich said conveyed incorrect statements about him were likely defamation of him.
One such claim was the suggestion that Abramovich was “under Putin’s control” and that the oligarchy was compelled “to make the wealth from his business empire available for the use of President Putin and his regime,” Tiples wrote in his 34-page rule. But it ruled out that three of the four departments Rosneft complained about were not defamatory, and so the oil company dropped its case.
Tables emphasized that the court was only, at that point, deciding on meaning. It has not determined whether the allegations about Abramovich or anyone else are true or false. After Wednesday’s settlement, the claims will not be tested in court.
At the first hearing, Abramovich’s lawyer said the writers repeated “lazy mistakes about Abramovich’s role in various events” and made false and harmful statements about him that were “absolutely unfounded.”
Bilton spent seven years writing “Putin’s People” and was based in Moscow as bureau chief for the Financial Times. Last month, it was named 2021 Distinguished Investigative Journalist At the awards bear the name of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian anti-corruption lawyer who died in prison.
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