The Times has corrected a story it published last Thursday which suggested that Independent proprietor Alexander Lebedev had been questioned by Moscow police over allegations he threatened a business associate.
Press Gazette understands that Lebedev, who also owns the Evening Standard, was fuming about the story and that today’s ‘clarification’was agreed without legal action or going to the PCC.
The story follows a recent history of friction between Times publishers News International and Lebedev’s fledgling publishing empire.
In April, during the general election campaign, The Independent published a marketing slogan on a free promotional copy of the newspaper which made reference to the Times’ proprietor which said: ‘Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election, you will”. It prompted News Corp Asia and Europe boss James Murdoch to walk into the Independent newsroom with News Corp boss Rebekah Brooks and have a stand-up row with editor Simon Kelner with Murdoch saying Kelner was ‘impugning my family name”.
Thursday’s piece in The Times claimed that Lebedev was being investigated over allegations he had threatened a business associate.
Today’s Times clarification states: ‘Alaexander Lebedev has asked us to make clear that has spoken to the Moscow police only as part of a pre-investigation into a former business partner. He has not been questioned by the police about allegations of death threats that, as we reported, he categorically denies. We are happy to make the clarification.”