The following statement was released on Wednesday 28 July:
Today the first hearing took place in London, in the High Court, following the proceedings issued in March by Mr Abramovich over the defamatory claims made about him in the book ‘Putin’s People’, published by HarperCollins.
We have now had an opportunity to make our concerns clear to the Court and to explain why Mr Abramovich has brought this claim. The Defendants have also clarified their position regarding a number of the false and defamatory statements made about Mr Abramovich in the book.
Today the defendants argued, amongst other things, that they do not suggest that Mr Abramovich has acted in an illegal or unlawful manner and that, in fact, their portrayal of Mr Abramovich was intended ‘as someone able to do business in the US and the UK and as a person considered suitable to own a major football club.’ The defendants told the court that they consider Mr Abramovich to be separate to the main themes explored in the book and that ‘Putin’s inner circle comprises almost exclusively current Russian security service or former KGB personnel’, of which Mr Abramovich is clearly not a part.
The defendants also emphasised that the named individual who suggested that Chelsea Football Club was purchased at the direction of President Putin was someone ‘prone to overstating his role’ and argued that readers would take his credibility into account when reading the book. They did however not explain why this individual has such a central role in the book.
Although it is helpful to have the defendants’ clarifications – their position in today’s hearing does not correspond to what is actually written in the book, and further underscores the need for the false and defamatory claims about Mr Abramovich to be corrected as soon as possible.
Spokesperson for Mr Abramovich, July 28th, 2021