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Nicole Richie has been granted a permanent restraining order against two members of the paparazzi who she claims caused her Oct. 5 car accident. OK! has learned the two men are to stay 50 yards away from Nicole, her kids and her car for three years.

“For months they have been following me prior to the Oct. 5 accident and they continued to pursue me even after the accident. I have been diagnosed with something now and I don’t feel good,” Nicole testified. She says the paparazzi were trying to make her react for a more interesting shot, after she’d gone out for lunch with her mother.

“I was on foot, I got in my car to drive east to go to a business meeting,” she recalled in court. “They were cutting each other off, to lobby for a better position. They were trying to get in front of me or beside me, I was following my mom. I crossed on yellow. They ran the red light in order to follow me. Then I stopped, then out of nowhere, a car slammed right into me.”

She also explained that she was alone in the car, one of the first times her children weren’t with her.

“I was hysterically crying. I was lucky my mom was there. About 10 minutes later the pain kicked in and I went to the hospital.”

Nicole recalls calling the father of her children, boyfriend Joel Madden, who she mistakenly identified as her husband. Since they’re not legally wed, the restraining order will not cover him.

“I called my husband and was hysterical. My mother had [driven] me to the hospital…” she testified. “I understand the thing about the paps it is what it is. There is a difference between shooting from long lenses and getting right on me and stalking. They follow me all the time. I’ve seen them. More than 20 times. They are always there. I encountered them within days after the accident. They are always together. A team. One is doing the yelling and one is taking the pictures. I’ve seen two or three times after the accident, until I got a restraining order.”

Joel also testified about what happened when he heard from Nicole immediately after the accident.

“She was hysterical. I could barely understand what she was saying. I instructed her to stay in the car,” he said. “I knew the paparazzi had caused it, so I knew it would be a scene right there. She also told me when the accident happened, that they were filming her right after the accident. From the accident, from then to now, she is always terrified.”

One of the photogs involved in the case, known as Ivon, is tearful and upset, an eyewitness tells OK!, and he apologized to Nicole and Joel in court with a heartfelt speech.

“I come from a really good family. I am very sorry. I never meant to hurt her or scare her and I never went onto her property,” he said in open court. “I was not driving the car that hit her and she knows that but I did not mean ever to create harm. I’ve only photographed her three times in two years.”

Ivon reiterated his apology exclusively to OK!, saying, “I am deeply sorry. I never wanted to create a problem for anybody. Nicole has only seen me three times and if she asks me not to take a picturef her, I respect that and I won’t. I don’t. I do this for a living and it will be harder now to do what I know how to do. It is my livelihood, just like it is Nicole’s livelihood to get her picture taken. This was an accident and not us trying to create a crash to get better photos. We would never do that. No pap does that. It’s not worth it, just for a car shot.”

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