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Melanie will restore Gerry's reputation in her book - pal

MELANIE Verwoerd will defend her late partner Gerry Ryan in her new book. Sources close to the 45-year-old South African have indicated that she will attempt to "correct unfounded rumours" about the RTE presenter.

Ms Verwoerd told the Herald today she will not comment on newspaper reports that Gerry's widow, Morah Ryan, is to boycott the book.

The broadcaster died suddenly in April 2010 and an inquest found traces of cocaine in his system.

Sources have said Ms Verwoerd, a former South African ambassador to Ireland, would not have written her autobiography, When We Dance, if it had not been for the inquest revelations. Her book will defend him, the source added.

It is understood Morah, the mother of Gerry's five children, believes that the story of Melanie's relationship with Gerry may 'reopen old wounds' at a time when the family are still coping with his death. But friends of Ms Verwoerd insisted that "two-thirds of the book has nothing to do with Gerry". Morah and Melanie have long had a strained relationship.

The decision of the publisher to promote the parts of the book which deal with Melanie's relationship with Gerry is seen as a problem for Morah.

Publisher Liberties Press said the book will deal with all aspects of Melanie's eventful life, including her time as South African ambassador to Ireland, her tenure as chief executive of the UNICEF charity in Ireland, and her relationship with Gerry.

Melanie said she was inspired to write her life story by two men - Nelson Mandela and Gerry Ryan.

"From a young age, the importance of having a voice, and using it, has been the cornerstone of my life. Two men in particular have urged me to do so -- Mandela, before I entered politics, and Gerry Ryan, who made me promise to write my story."