Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Saturday, 2 August 2008 17:53 UK

Rushdie anger at policeman's book

Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman Rushdie is planning legal action against his former police driver

Sir Salman Rushdie is threatening to sue a former police bodyguard who has written a book about protecting the author while he was in hiding.

The award-winning writer is furious at the way he has been portrayed by Ron Evans in On Her Majesty's Service.

Mr Evans was among the officers who guarded Sir Salman after The Satanic Verses led to death threats in 1989.

The author told BBC News the claims were "a bunch of lies" and he was seriously considering legal action.

Sir Salman said the book was defamatory and is demanding that the offending chapters be removed.

The Booker Prize-winning author received police protection after a fatwa was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's spiritual leader.

Mr Evans worked as a driver in the protection unit. He was also a bodyguard for John Major and other high-profile figures.

I was never locked in a cupboard nor was I suicidal - none of these things happened
Sir Salman Rushdie

In the book, he claims Sir Salman was nicknamed "Scruffy" and was once locked in a cupboard because he irritated his protection officers. They then all went to the pub.

He wrote: "When they were suitably refreshed they came back and let him out."

He also claims the author charged officers around £40 a night to stay in his home and would also ask for money if they drank his wine.

In the memoirs, Mr Evans writes: "We were paying, or rather, the taxpayer was paying Rushdie to protect him!"

'Extremely friendly'

Sir Salman replied: "He's made up a whole bunch of lies.

"I became extremely friendly and fond of the police officers who protected me.

"They were extremely scrupulous and would never behave so cruelly to me, get drunk on duty or do anything else he has said.

"At the end of my nine years of protection, they even held a party for me.

"He has not checked his facts. I was never locked in a cupboard nor was I suicidal. None of these things happened.

"The first I heard about the book was three weeks ago when a senior police officer called to warn me it was coming out.

"He said the force was humiliated, apologetic and embarrassed about it."

Rent money

Sir Salman said he was paid rent for officers who stayed in his houses but that he never asked for the money.

He said it had been offered by the police, who would otherwise have had to pay for more expensive lodgings nearby.

He said: "I am not in the business of suppressing books. I just want the stuff taken out of which he knows to be untrue.

"Whenever I write something, I always want to make sure that what I write is defensible. That doesn't seem to be the case here."

We regret that he chooses to publish this book
Metropolitan Police Service

Sir Salman said he remembered Mr Evans but the man had not made any overall impression on him.

He said: "This is not just my reputation at stake. Apart from making me look bad, he's made the entire police force look bad.

"I am taking the action because I feel loyal towards those people who risked their lives for me.

"They are being accused of all sorts of things and yet no-one seems to be defending them."

Legal action

Sir Salman is considering legal action against Mr Evans, his co-writer Douglas Thompson and publisher John Blake Publishing Ltd.

In 2005, Mr Evans was convicted on nine counts of false accounting and ordered to pay £6,280.85 in fines and costs.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) about the book said Mr Evans had not been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.

"It is not our intention to comment on Ron Evans' recollection and interpretation of specific events. We regret that he chooses to publish this book," the MPS said.

"There were a number of passages within the draft which caused [us] concern. Following legal advice we negotiated with the publishers to make some alterations."

The publishing house has declined to comment. Ron Evans and Douglas Thompson were unavailable for comment.


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