Ex-bodyguard apologises to Rushdie

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London, Aug 26 (UNI) A former bodyguard of Indian-born author Salman Rushdie has apologised for lying about the world-famous writer in a tell-all book.

In a book entitled ''On Her Majesty's Service,'' Ronald Evans, a former London Metropolitan Police officer wrote about Rushdie's life.

Evans and publisher John Blake Publishing Ltd today accepted in the London High Court that allegations in Evans' book about Rushdie's personal life were untrue.

Evans had written that Rushdie sought to profit from an Iranian-backed death threat for his 1988 novel ''The Satanic Verses.'' In the book, Evans also accused Rushdie of being suicidal and unhygienic.

Through their lawyer Theo Solley, Evans, his publisher and ghost writer Douglas Thompson said they apologised for the ''hurt and damage'' caused by the lies.

Rushdie attended the High Court in London to hear apologies from the writers and publishers of the book which they admitted contained falsehood about his life under police protection.

Evans, whose duties included driving for the Special Branch protection squad which looked after Rushdie when his life was under threat, made an apology through his solicitor on 11 counts of falsehood.

Justice Teare made a Declaration of Falsity against Evans, Douglas Thompson, and the publisher of the book.

Rushdie, who did not seek damages, said after the hearing, ''This has been an unattractive affair. My only interest was to establish the truth. I'm happy that the court has made its declaration of falsity and that the authors and publishers have recognised their falsehood and apologised. As far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter.'' David Sherborne, representing Rushdie, told the judge that Evans met his client while he was living under the strain of a 'fatwa' issued against him by the Iranian regime in 1989 over his book 'The Satanic Verses'.

Evans left the police force following his conviction on nine counts of dishonesty, Mr Sherborne said.

He said Evans's book and extracts from it published in the Mail on Sunday, contained ''many so-called revelations about Rushdie's personal life, his relationship with his wife, son and interactions with police protection officers.'' ''In addition to the invasion of his privacy which this book represented, of particular concern to the claimant were a series of utterly and demonstrably false statements which it contained,'' he said.

Mr Sherborne said, ''Allegations of this nature are, of course, highly defamatory and they were particularly offensive to the claimant because they are simply not true.'' ''In fact, as a number of his protection officers volunteered to testify in the event that this matter came to trial, Rushdie conducted himself with dignity and courtesy throughout a time of great personal danger and concern,'' he said.

Rushdie, who was in court, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

John Blake Publishing Ltd withdrew the 4,000 copies that were printed but never published after discovering that substantial parts of two chapters were untrue. Parts of the book have now been rewritten.

The original book included false claims that the security officers who guarded Rushdie after the 'fatwa' was declared against him once locked him in a cupboard and went for a drink, and that his third wife Elizabeth West married him for his money.


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