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Abramovich gets apology over false Putin claim

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has deemed a security threat by the Swiss police

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has received an apology from publisher HarperCollins over defamatory allegations in a book titled Putin’s People.

HarperCollins published a book which included the claim that Abramovich bought London football club Chelsea on the orders of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday the company apologised to the Russian oligarch and confirmed it had reached a settlement.

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It has amended the book, Putin’s People by UK journalist Catherine Belton.

Published by HarperCollins last year, Putin’s People included an allegation by another Russian billionaire, Sergei Pugachev, that Mr Abramovich had bought the club in 2003 on the orders of Mr Putin.

In a statement, the publisher said Ms Belton’s book “contained some inaccurate information” about Mr Abramovich.

“While the book always included a denial that Mr Abramovich was acting under anybody’s direction when he purchased Chelsea, the new edition will include a more detailed explanation of Mr Abramovich’s motivations for buying the club,” it read.

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“HarperCollins and the author apologise that these aspects of the book were not as clear as they would have liked them to have been and are happy to have now clarified the text,” it added.

A spokesman for the Chelsea FC owner said they were “pleased” at the settlement, and said the allegations “lacked evidence and were indeed false”.

“In contrast to events relayed in the book, Abramovich’s ambition with Chelsea Football Club has always been clear and transparent: to create world-class teams on the pitch and to ensure the club plays a positive role in all of its communities.”

Since the Russian’s takeover of the club, Chelsea have won the Premier League and the FA Cup five times each, as well as twice winning the UEFA Champions League, most recently last year when the team beat Manchester City.

In response HarperCollins pointed out that in its judgment, the court was not “determining whether allegations made in the book about the claimant or anyone else are true”.

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The publisher added that it was committed to publishing investigative work and defending free speech and Ms Belton’s book was “highly regarded and critically acclaimed”.

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