Express: Sorry we called New Zealand man a Russian Tycoon

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A Daily Express front page (Credit: Flickr/FreshOnTheNet)

The UK Express called Christopher Chandler a Russian tycoon who helped Russian president Vladimir Putin take control over Gazprom, a major energy company in Russia.

Problem is, Chandler is not Russian; he is from New Zealand. Also, he didn’t “actively or knowingly help President Putin gain control of Gazprom,” the Express now admits.

The concessions from the Express came in a Feb. 4 apology to Chandler published on the newspaper’s  website. The paper’s original story, “Russian funded think-tank ‘stages soft coup’ with Boris and Gove’s hard Brexit letter,” was published Nov. 26, 2017, and appears to have been unpublished. (Boris and Gove refers to UK politicians Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.) iMediaEthics has written to the Express to confirm the article was deleted and ask how the errors occurred.

Legatum, a global private investment firm which Chandler founded in the U.K., published a lengthy statement saying “we welcome” the apology, adding that Chandler and none of his partners has “ever met President Putin.” iMediaEthics contacted Legatum, which declined to comment on the apologies.

The full apology reads:

“In an article published on 26 November 2017 entitled “Russian funded think-tank ‘stages soft coup’ with Boris and Gove’s hard Brexit letter” we referred to businessman and philanthropist Christopher Chandler as a Russian tycoon.

“We also reported that Mr Chandler had helped President Vladimir Putin to take control of Russian energy giant Gazprom. In fact, Mr Chandler is a New Zealand national.

“He is not and never has been a Russian tycoon. While Mr Chandler through Sovereign Global held shares in Gazprom, it was from a time well before President Putin gained power in the Russian Federation.

“Mr Chandler states, and we accept, that he did not actively or knowingly help President Putin gain control of Gazprom, which was the unforeseeable outcome of the minority shareholders’ lobbying to which Mr Chandler had been a part.

“The Legatum Institute Foundation, a charity registered in the UK, has many donors including Mr Chandler, but none of them is Russian.

“Mr Chandler was unaware of any involvement by the Legatum Institute Foundation in supporting Messrs Johnson and Gove prior to the 2017 budget.

“We are happy to set the record straight and apologise to Mr Chandler for the errors made in the article.”

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Express: Sorry we called New Zealand man a Russian tycoon

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