Usmanov Drops Libel Case After Apology

LONDON -- Billionaire Alisher Usmanov dropped a libel case against a British newspaper Thursday after accepting a public apology over an article he said could lead to suspicions about him being guilty of rape and being involved in the death of a journalist.

Usmanov, the largest shareholder of Arsenal Football Club, brought libel proceedings in London over a December 2007 article in The Mail on Sunday.

He had sought an apology over the article and started legal action when he did not get one.

Usmanov, who lives in Moscow but has a home in Surrey, southern England, argued that the article meant that there might be reasonable grounds to suspect him of being guilty both of rape and of involvement in the killing of a Russian journalist.

His counsel Richard Parkes said the allegations were entirely false, deeply offensive and embarrassing to Usmanov.

Parkes said the publishers, Associated Newspapers, had agreed to publish an apology for the distress and embarrassment caused by the allegations, which it acknowledged were false and without foundation. "It has accepted and acknowledged that Mr. Usmanov has never been accused of, charged with or found guilty of either offense," Parkes said. "In these circumstances, Mr. Usmanov considers that he has been fully vindicated and accordingly is happy to bring these proceedings to a close."