Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has launched defamation proceedings against the book 'Putin's People', which he has claimed contains "false or misleading statements" that are damaging to his and Chelsea's reputation.
The defamation suit has been filed against both publishers HarperCollins and the book's author, Catherine Belton.
A claim made by Sergei Pugachev in the book Putin’s People stated that Abramovich had been ordered to purchase Chelsea FC under the instruction of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
Abramovich had hoped to resolve the issues privately but the discussions proved unproductive, leading to the Russian moving to fight the claim, as well as number of others, in court.
In a statement, Abramovich detailed the harm the allegations have caused him with regards to himself and in his position at Chelsea FC.
“Today my legal representatives have issued legal proceedings in England in relation to a book that was published in the UK,” said Abramovich.
“The book contains a number of false and defamatory statements about me, including about my purchase, and the activities, of Chelsea Football Club.
“Today’s action was not taken lightly. It has never been my ambition to gain a public profile and I have always been reluctant to provide commentary on any matters, including any false or misleading statements about me or Chelsea Football Club.
“However, it has become clear that the false allegations in this book are having a damaging effect, not only on my personal reputation, but also in respect of the activities of Chelsea Football Club.”
In the High Court in 2018, Pugachev made the claim tnat Putin had ordered Abramovich to purchase Chelsea, however, his witness statements were branded as “self-serving” and “impossible to believe” by Mrs Justice Rose, in his dispute with JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank.
Despite losing the High Court case, the allegations were repeated inside the book.
“My objective has been to avoid a legal case and my legal team has engaged with the publishers to try to find an amicable resolution,” continued Abramovich’s statement.
“We have provided them with detailed information addressing the various false allegations about me in the book, including the repetition of allegations that have already been held to be false in the English High Court during previous legal proceedings.
“Unfortunately, these engagements were not successful, and the publisher has not corrected the false statements in the book.
“On the subject of Chelsea Football Club, in contrast to the portrayal in the book, my ambition with Chelsea Football Club has always been to create world-class teams on the pitch and to ensure the club plays a positive role in all of its communities.
“I believe our successes and activities over the years speak for themselves, including the trophies won, expansion of the Chelsea Academy, development of the Women’s team and the Chelsea Foundation becoming the largest charitable organisation within the Premier League.
“It is my hope that today’s action will not only refute the false allegations in regard to my own name, but also serve as a reminder of Chelsea’s positive footprint in the UK.
“I have every belief that the courts will give me a fair hearing, as they have in the past.”
Other claims in the book come from late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, which ventured back to the 2012 court case which Abrahmovich won, where he stated that he was intimidated by the Chelsea owner to sell shares in the oil company Sibneft.
Berezovsky has been described by the court as an “inherently unreliable” witness.
Author: Jake Wilkin