The worst bit of journalism yet on the Usmanov case comes, unsurprisingly, from the Guardian. For arse-licking, unquestioning repetition of the claims of Usmanov’s lawyers, this takes the biscuit.
Usmanov aims legal arsenal at bloggers
Thursday September 13, 2007
Arsenal’s newest shareholder, the Uzbek minerals billionaire Alisher Usmanov, continues to police discussion of his past and of his intentions for the Gunners after paying ’75m for David Dein’s 14.58% share in the club.
Schillings, the lawyers acting for Usmanov, have been in touch with several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs warning them to remove postings referring to allegations made against him by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime but says that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president. Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.
Most sites have complied and removed the allegations. Murray himself is yet to receive any correspondence from Usmanov’s lawyers, though the hosts of his website have complied with Schillings’ demands. The former ambassador says that he has contacted Schillings to ensure they know where to send any writ.
Usmanov’s Arsenal investment vehicle, Red & White, has purchased further shares in the club since taking a major stake but as yet has not arranged a meeting with the club. Existing board members have become remarkably vocal since his purchase, barely a day passing without a senior figure from the club talking up Arsenal’s financial position. The club’s results, due next week, are expected to show a healthy position, with as much as ‘3m generated by each match at the Emirates.
The bit about
Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.
is particularly egregious. It makes it sound as though there has been some kind of judgement in the case. In fact the facts as I stated them are regarded as false by nobody to my knowlege except Schillings; other people may regard then as fals, but I am to date unaware of a single person saying so. And Schillings of course are paid to regard them as false. Has anybody else seen anything from a respectable source arguing that what I said about Usmanov was false?
Paul Kelso contacted me before writing his article, and here is the email I sent him:
no – Schillings have had no contact with me, except I phoned them to make sure they could find me for a writ! My webhost received a legal threat from Schillings, and my webhost responded to the threat of legal action by taking down one of my articles. I withdraw nothing. I want Usmanov to sue me. He is a <removed on legal recommendation>, and I know enough about him, and enough
potential witnesses, to give him a torrid time in a UK court beyond even the ability of Schillings to cover up.
Usmanov knows that, and Schillings are obviously bluffing – although they are writing that my book is “libellous”, it has been out for over a year now, sold over 25,000 copies already, and they have done nothing but spout bollocks.
As you may know, my book is being made into a film next year by Michael Winterbottom and Paramount. Don’t know who will play Usmanov – sadly Fatty Arbuckle is dead.
Now how fair and balanced was Kelso’s article?
– Legal note – 2 edits made by webhost on legal advice