Orlando Figes Pays Out

Some may recall the brouhaha that I discussed in April surrounding Orlando Figes writing hostile reviews of his rivals’ work on Amazon under a pseudonym, denying that he had written them, and instructing his lawyers on the matter. It all fell apart when the anonymous reviewer on Amazon was traced to the same address that Figes had lived. Figes then claimed that the truth was that his wife had written the hostile reviews but he had no prior knowledge that she had done so. The claims were becoming ridiculously far-fetched and Figes ultimately admitted that he had written the reviews all along. He suggested that he was an indirect victim of Stalin due to the fact that he had suffered depression as a result of writing a book about Stalin’s actual victims.

Two of his rivals, Rachel Polonsky and Robert Service, subsequently sued Figes over this. The Guardian reports that Figes is to pay damages to Polonsky and Service and adds:

In a statement released on 23 April Figes admitted “full responsibility” for the posts, saying he had been under “intense pressure”. He said: “I have made some foolish errors and apologise wholeheartedly to all concerned.”

As part of the agreed settlement Figes, who has been on sick leave since the scandal broke, has circulated an apology and retraction. Figes and his wife also agreed to pay his fellow historians damages and legal costs, and promised not to repeat the allegations or post further anonymous reviews of their works.

For those not overly familiar with Figes’ scholarly practices, do read the extracts of Rachel Polonsky’s 2002 review of Figes’ book, Natasha’s Dance that I used in my previous post on this subject.