Rushdie’s ex-bodyguard says ’sorry’ for libelling him (Lead)

August 26th, 2008 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 26 (IANS) A former policeman, who guarded Salman Rushdie during the “Satanic Verses” controversy 20 years ago, Tuesday apologised to the author for libelling him in a planned book.Rushdie, who did not seek damages, said after a court 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 falsehoods and apologised.

“As far as I am concerned that’s the end of the matter.”

Ron Evans was part of a Special Branch team that had been deployed to protect Rushdie round the clock after the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared a death sentence on him for his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses”, which some Muslims said blasphemed their religion.

Evans, a convicted fraudster, made an apology through his solicitor on 11 counts of falsehoods.

John Blake, the publisher of Evans’ book, “On Her Majesty’s Service”, pulped all 4,000 copies which were printed but never published.

Substantial parts of two chapters were untrue and parts of the book have now been re-written.

The judge made a Declaration of Falsity against Evans, his ghost writer Douglas Thompson and John Blake Publishing.

In his book, which was serialised in the Daily Mail newspaper, Evans claimed Rushdie’s security guards once locked him in a cupboard and went for a drink, and alleged that his third wife, Elizabeth West, married him for his money.

In a furious response Rushdie told The Guardian Aug 2: “The police always had enormous respect for my privacy. They understood it was very difficult for me to live in a house with four strangers. It is an obscenity to suggest that I asked people to leave the room so that I could have sex with my girlfriend. I will not have that said about me.”

Rushdie said Evans was a driver who had magnified his own role and that a senior Scotland Yard officer had telephone him to apologise.

“This is not a free speech issue, this is libel - there is a difference between those two things. I can defend the truth, I will not have my character destroyed and presented to the world as something that it is not,” Rushdie said.

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