Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich suing author and their publisher over Putin’s People book

Roman Abramovich is suing an author and her publisher for ‘false or misleading statements’ which he believes are damaging not only his reputation but that of Chelsea.

The West London club’s owner has filed a defamation suit against Catherine Belton, who wrote Putin’s People, and HarperCollins.

Belton’s book includes claims from Sergei Pugachev that Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 on the personal orders of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

Roman Abramovich has launched a defamation suit over 'false or misleading statements'

Roman Abramovich has launched a defamation suit over 'false or misleading statements'

Roman Abramovich has launched a defamation suit over ‘false or misleading statements’

He has taken legal proceeding against Catherine Belton and her publisher HarperCollins

He has taken legal proceeding against Catherine Belton and her publisher HarperCollins

He has taken legal proceeding against Catherine Belton and her publisher HarperCollins

After months of unproductive discussions with HarperCollins, 54-year-old billionaire Abramovich has decided to take the legal route.

Abramovich – who remains a private figure – has also taken the unusual step of issuing a public statement in which he explained the harm he considers allegations in Belton’s book have caused him, both personally and in his role as Chelsea owner.

‘Today my legal representatives have issued legal proceedings in England in relation to a book that was published in the UK,’ he said.

‘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.’

Russian Billionaire Pugachev claimed in the High Court in 2018 that Putin had ordered Abramovich to purchase Chelsea.

Pugachev’s witness statements were branded ‘self-serving’ and ‘impossible to believe’ by Mrs Justice Rose, in his dispute with JSC Mezhdunarodniy Promyshlenniy Bank.

The book includes comments suggesting Vladimir Putin ordered Abramovich to buy Chelsea

The book includes comments suggesting Vladimir Putin ordered Abramovich to buy Chelsea

The book includes comments suggesting Vladimir Putin ordered Abramovich to buy Chelsea

Pugachev went on to lose the High Court case, but his allegations about Abramovich and Chelsea were repeated in interviews for Putin’s People, which was published last year.

Abramovich added that he wished to avoid a legal case but had been left with little option. ‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’

Abramovich has also objected to further claims in Belton’s book, from late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

Abramovich won a major court case against Berezovsky in 2012, with claims dismissed that the Chelsea owner had intimidated his former business associate into selling shares in oil company Sibneft.

Berezovsky had been described by the court as an ‘inherently unreliable’ witness.

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