Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Tuesday, 26 August 2008 13:30 UK

Bodyguard apologises to Rushdie

Sir Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman required police protection after writing The Satanic Verses

A former police officer has apologised to Sir Salman Rushdie for false claims he made in a book about the author.

Ronald Evans helped to protect Sir Salman after he received death threats for writing The Satanic Verses in 1989.

In his book, On Her Majesty's Service, he claimed Sir Salman sought to profit from the fatwa and had been suicidal.

Mr Evans, ghost writer Douglas Thompson and publishers John Blake Publishing apologised in London's High Court for the "hurt and damage" they had caused.

Mr Justice Teare made a Declaration of Falsity against the two authors and the publisher.

Sir Salman, who did not seek damages, said after the hearing: "This has been an unattractive affair.


Salman Rushdie's statement outside court

"The author, ghost writers and publishers of this book have agreed in court that the book contained a very large number - 11 - serious falsehoods which they've admitted were complete lies.

"And the court has so ruled that these 11 statements were defamatory and untruthful.

"As far as I'm concerned that's the end of the matter.

"It was never my desire to seek any financial reward from this but simply to have it established that the truth is the truth and lies are lies - I'm happy to have nailed that."

'Locked in a room'

David Sherborne, representing Sir Salman, told the judge that Mr Evans's book contained "many so-called revelations about Sir Salman's home 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."

The statements admitted to be false included:

  • That Sir Salman was locked in a room by protection officers because of his objectionable attitude towards them.
  • That protection officers who asked Sir Salman if they could buy alcohol from him were charged for the drinks.
  • That Sir Salman sought to profit from the fatwa inviting Muslims to kill him for insulting the prophet Muhammad.
  • That he sought and was advised by the Intelligence Services not to publish a book about his experiences.
  • That safe houses were provided for Sir Salman at government expense, rather than having to provide them himself at great personal expense.
  • That the relationship between Sir Salman and his protection teams was unprofessional, hostile and unfriendly.
  • That Sir Salman was unhygienic and suicidal and was being supervised or examined by a police psychiatrist.
  • That Elizabeth West became his girlfriend and then his wife because of Sir Salman's wealth.

Establishing truth

Sir Salman praised the use of the Declaration of Falsity in this case and urged others in the same situation to follow the same route.

"I hope that maybe this device of the Declaration of Falsity is another way of pursuing these matters," he said.

"Instead of going for the megabucks you simply go to court for the important thing which is to establish what's true and what's not.

"I think it's a clearer and simpler way of dealing with this and I'm very pleased we've been able to use it in this way."

On Her Majesty's Service was due to be published in early August but it was delayed after Sir Salman became aware of the claims after portions of the book were serialised in a newspaper.

John Blake Publishing Ltd, pulped 4,000 copies which were printed but never distributed after discovering that substantial parts of two chapters were untrue.

Elements of the book have now been re-written.

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