Salaman Rushdie Threatens to Sue Former Bodyguard


LONDON, Aug 2: Celebrated Indian-origin author Salman Rushdie has threatened to sue a former bodyguard for claiming in his forthcoming book that he was mean and extremely unpleasant towards policemen protecting him from assassins following the Iranian fatwa on his life in 1989.

Reacting to the claims of the Special Branch officer Ron Evans, Rushdie said that the author was "portraying me as mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant and extremely unpleasant".

"In my humble opinion I am none of those things," Rushdie, who last month won the 'Best of the Booker' award told the Guardian.

In his book, Evans claimed that Rushdie was even imprisoned by his bodyguards who "got so fed up with his attitude that they locked him in a cupboard under the stairs and all went to the local pub for a pint or  two.

"When they were suitably refreshed they came back and let him  out."
Rushdie was forced to stay in hiding for nine years after Iranian hardline religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa on his life in February 1989, claiming his novel 'The Satanic Verses' was blasphemous.

According to the book titled 'On Her Majesty's Service', which is due to be published next week, the police nicknamed the author 'Scruffy' because of his unkempt appearance.

In the book, to be printed by John Blame Publishing Ltd, Evans said when officers asked to drink some bottles of red wine they had found Rushdie wanted to charge them 45 pounds each.

The book also alleged that when officers stayed overnight in his home, he billed the Metropolitan police for rent of "at least forty quid a night for special branch officers to risk their lives to stop him being taken out by followers of the fatwa".

Dismissing the claims of the cupboard incident, Rushdie said "The simple fact of the matter is that nothing of this sort happened."

"My relationship with my protection team was always cordial, certainly entirely professional. This kind of absurd behaviour never occurred. There are three references in his article to drinking on duty - it is absolutely forbidden for police officers, particularly in possession of firearms, to drink on duty. They did not do so," he said.

"The idea of them raiding my friend's wine cellars then me asking them to pay for this is completely fictitious. It is absurd the idea that they would lock me in a cupboard and go to the pub.

Rushdie termed the author's claim as a "bad comedy" and said he was still friendly with some of his bodyguards.

"It is like a bad comedy. My relations with the protection officers were cordial and I am still friendly with a few of them.  At the end of my nine years of protection they held a reception for me.

"I had a lot of sympathy and understanding from the police. Our relationship was the exact opposite of what has been written," the author said.

Evens, in his book also claimed that Rushdie demanded privacy so that he could spend time with his girlfriend and added "I tried to tell him that having us around hadn't put Scruffy off his stroke in the past."

Reacting to the claims Rushdie said: "It is an obscenity to suggest that I asked people to leave the room so that I could have sex with my girlfriend."

Rushdie said a very senior member of the Scotland Yard protection service telephoned his to apologise for the claims
and said police force felt "humiliated and embarrassed."

He Rushdie acknowledged that rent was paid to him for the accommodation provided to police officers but said this was at the behest of the police.


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