Brit ex-spy to cut Mandela out of MI6 book

Time of article published Feb 1, 2001

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The author of a controversial book on the British intelligence agency MI6 has apologised and says he will cut out all mention of Nelson Mandela from the UK edition and future editions of the Russian-published book.

Richard Tomlinson, author of The Big Breach, said he had taken the action after an article in The Guardian in London in which Mandela was quoted as saying the reference to him in the book was a slur.

In the book, the former MI6 operative said Mandela had held a meeting with MI6 agents in England in 1990, together with his former wife, Winnie.

Tomlinson said the article gave him the impression that Mandela had not been aware that he had been talking to agents.

"While I stand by what I wrote, I realise that Mr Mandela may not have been conscious that he was meeting MI6, as opposed to ordinary government officials.

"I have asked the publisher to remove all mention of Mr Mandela," Tomlinson said in a letter to Anthony Sampson, Mandela's biographer.

"I had no intention of causing him (Mandela) any distress at all, and am mortified that he has interpreted what I said as a slur," he said.

Winnie-Madikizela Mandela has already denied that she met M16 agents.

Mandela and his former wife travelled to France shortly after the statesman was freed from jail in 1990. They flew to southern England on a special operations helicopter where they held "secret discussions" with government officials.

Mandela confirmed on Thurday that he had been given the use of a helicopter by the British government, but added that there was nothing clandestine about it.

"In fact. it was used for a visit to Oliver Tambo. From there, I telephoned Margaret Thatcher to inform her I was in the country, and I tried to convince her not to go ahead with resolutions she intended to move in Dublin at a European Community meeting."

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