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Court victory for former Christie's wine chief

Published:  13 October, 2009

The former head of Christie's wine department has won a libel action against the publishers of the controversial book The Billionaire's Vinegar.

The book, published by Random House, focused on the provenance of a number of bottles of wine said to have been owned by US President Thomas Jefferson, made allegations that Michael Broadbent had behaved unprofessionaly in the way he had auctioned some of the bottles.

It also alleged improper dealings with Hardy Rodenstock who discovered the original collection.
Libel and defamation law firm, Russell Jones & Walker acted on behalf of Broadbent and won the case earlier today.

In a statement read out in court, Random House apologised unreservedly for making the allegations and accepted that they were untrue. The publisher has given an undertaking not to repeat the allegations and paid Broadbent undisclosed damages.

Sarah Webb, head of Russell Jones & Walker's Defamation department, who acted for Mr Broadbent said:

"The Billionaire's Vinegar made highly damaging claims about my client that seriously compromised both his professional and personal reputation. We are delighted that Random House has today accepted that these allegations are totally without foundation and avoided the need to proceed to a full trial. My client is relieved that the good name he has built up over many years as one of the country's leading wine experts has been fully restored."