The lawyer of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has told a court that Vladimir Putin had no involvement in his client's purchase of the west London club back in 2003.
British journalist Catherine Belton recently released a book entitled 'Putin's People' which documented Putin's rise to power, with said book suggesting the president of Russia had directed Abramovich to buy Chelsea Football Club.
The Blues owner has naturally denied any such allegations - making complaints about 26 extracts of the book in total - and with court proceedings now underway, Abramovich's lawyer Hugh Tomlinson has vehemently denied the claims and added that his client has no participation in Putin's schemes.
“The ordinary and reasonable reader would inevitably come out with the view that Roman Abramovich was instructed to buy Chelsea, so he was being used as the acceptable face of a corrupt and dangerous regime,” he said (as reported by The Guardian).
"At no stage is the reader told that actually Abramovich is someone who is distant from Putin and doesn’t participate in the many and various corrupt schemes that are described. On the contrary, he’s described as making corrupt payments.”
A spokesperson for Abramovich has also released a statement calling for the Chelsea owner's name to be cleared immediately, adding that the defence put forward in court by Belton's lawyers does not correspond with what she's written in the book.
"The defendants emphasised that the named individual who suggested that Chelsea Football Club was purchased as the direction of president Putin was someone 'prone to overstating his role' and argued that the readers would take his credibility into account when reading the book," the statement read.
"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 false and defamatory claims about Mr Abramovich to be corrected as soon as possible."