August 06, 2021
Recent action against a book about Putin shows what can happen when journalism collides with the English legal system
If the government cared about free speech, it would reform the London libel industry | Justin Borg-Barthet
One of the perils of investigative journalism is that, even if what you write is critically acclaimed and applauded, it could still land you in court: the high court in London, to be precise. Catherine Belton, whose book investigated the relationship between economic power and politics in Russia, has done just that.
Chelsea FC’s owner, Roman Abramovich, along with Russia’s state owned energy giant, Rosneft, Oil tycoon Shalva Chigirinsky and two other claimants, objected to many things in Belton’s book, which they say are wrong and, as is their right, are taking her and the publishers HarperCollins to court. The two other claimants, Petr Aven, the head of Alfa-Bank, who was suing the publisher for data protection breaches, and Mikhail Fridman, owner of Russia’s largest non-state bank, who was suing, like Abramovich and Rosneft, for libel, settled their claims against the publisher earlier last week. They “have reached an accommodation with HarperCollins”, whereby the publisher has “agreed to remove effectively all the material on which the actions are based from future editions of the book”.
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