Roman Abramovich wins first round in defamation case over claims to Putin’s People’s Book

Roman Abramovich has welcomed a ruling in the first round of defamation claims over allegations that he bought Chelsea FC on Vladimir Putin’s orders as part of a plot to gain influence in the West.

He is suing billionaire journalist Katherine Belton, 55, for her best-selling book Putting People: How the KGB Takes Back Russia and Then Took on the West, which was published by HarperCollins last April.

Ms Belton, a former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, said Mr Abramovich was “working under the direction of the Kremlin” when he bought the Premier League club in 2003 for £150 million.

His barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC told the High Court in July that readers of the book would conclude that Mr Abramovich was “used as an acceptable face of a corrupt and dangerous regime” and that his “cashier” with President Putin. Had a corrupt relationship while working as ,

Today’s decision underscores the need to correct the false and defamatory claims about Mr. Abramovich as quickly as possible.Spokesperson of Roman Abramovich

However, Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Ms Belton and HarperCollins, pointed out that the reference to Mr Abramovich being a cashier was “in quotation marks, the suggestion is someone else’s observation”.

Mr Caldecott also told the court that the book “records a firm denial from a person close to Abramovich” that he had bought Chelsea on Mr Putin’s orders.

Mrs Justice Tipples was asked to determine the “natural and normal” meaning of the allegations about Mr Abramovich.

In a ruling on Wednesday, she found that readers of the book would consider Mr. Abramovich “under the control of President Vladimir Putin and, at the behest of President Putin and the Kremlin, he must make a fortune out of his business empire. For the use of President Putin and his regime.” is available.

“The claimant had no choice but to comply with these instructions, because if he had not done so, he would have lost his property to the Russian state and could have been exiled or imprisoned.”


According to the High Court judge (John Walton/PA) the book chapter describing the purchase of Chelsea FC was ‘striking’.

Mrs Justice Tipples also said that a general reader would understand the book to mean that “the claimant bought Chelsea Football Club in 2003 on the instructions of President Putin so that Russia could gain acceptance and influence in the UK”.

The judge said the chapter about Mr Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea FC is “an important part of the book, which will leave an impression on the reader”.

He also ruled that a reader would understand that the billionaire moved to New York to influence former US President Donald Trump’s family on Russia’s behalf on President Putin’s instructions.

The judge found that the nine charges that an ordinary reader would remove from the book were defamatory against Mr. Abramovich.

Mrs Justice Tipples also ruled that the allegations in the book were presented as statements of fact and not as expressions of opinion, as argued by HarperCollins and Ms Belton.

Following the verdict, Mr Abramovich’s spokesman said: “We welcome today’s ruling which suggests that the book ‘Puttin’s People’ actually makes several defamatory allegations about Mr Abramovich, including the purchase of Chelsea Football Club.” Contains false allegations about nature.

“We are pleased that the decision finds that the book contains a total of nine defamatory charges against Mr. Abramovich, which are consistent with the arguments of Mr. Abramovich’s initial claim.”

The spokesman continued: “Today’s decision underscores the need to correct the false and defamatory claims about Mr. Abramovich as quickly as possible.”


Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich welcomed the decision (Nick Potts/PA)

HarperCollins and Ms Belton are also being sued by Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft for defamation over the book.

However, in a second ruling on Wednesday by Mrs Justice Tipples, she ruled that three of the four allegations the energy firm had complained about were not defamatory.

A spokesperson for the publishing house said: “HarperCollins is carefully considering the decision this morning at the Earth Hearing given by Mrs. Justice Tipples about Katherine Belton’s book Putting People, an acclaimed work of considerable public interest.

“We are pleased that the judge has found that three of the four routes complained of by the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft do not carry a derogatory meaning to the company and therefore will not proceed, and Mr. Abramovich’s claim contains several serious connotations. are also rejected.”

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