Historian says sorry for fake reviews

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Orlando Figes, the historian, is paying damages and costs to two academics after they issued libel proceedings against him.

The case came after it emerged that Professor Figes, from Birkbeck College, University of London, posted poor reviews of books by fellow historians Dr Rachel Polonsky and Professor Robert Service, on the Amazon website.

Initially his wife, Stephanie Palmer, shouldered the blame for the reviews. But it emerged that Professor Figes wrote them himself, using the pseudonyms "Historian" and "Orlando-Birkbeck".

By then Professor Figes had issued legal threats to academic colleagues, literary journals and newspapers that suggested he might have written the reviews. His lawyer had also initially denied that he was the author and threatened legal action.

As part of the settlement agreed yesterday, Professor Figes, 50, has circulated an apology and retraction in which he accepts that his denial of responsibility for the reviews was false.