Sunday, August 03, 2008

Rushdie and the Law

Sir Salman Rushdie has been in the press rather a lot lately. His novel The Enchantress of Florence has been nominated yet again for a Man Booker Prize marking its spot on the controversial longlist. The shortlist will be announced at the beginning of September with the winner being awarded on October 14th. Rushdie is likely a favorite for the award, as last month he was awarded the Best of the Bookers for 1981’s Booker winner Midnights Children. I read last week that Ex-Special Branch detective Ron Evans mentions Rushdie in a negative manner in his autobiography On Her Majesty's Service which is due for release shortly. One of the negative comments alleges that the team of protection officers nicknamed Rushdie “Scruffy” as we reported here last week.

This has reportedly enraged the well-known author, especially as the story has spread like wildfire from traditional print media -- in this case The Telegraph -- into the blogsphere, as reported by the Guardian, who devoted the whole of its page two on the matter under the headline “‘I was never called Scruffy’ -- Rushdie set to sue over former bodyguard’s claims:”
Ron Evans, the book’s author, claims Rushdie was imprisoned by his guards 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.”

The author was alerted to the claims by a newspaper story about the alleged cupboard incident last weekend, which has subsequently been picked up on
websites and blogs.

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.

"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.

“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. I never heard myself called by the name Scruffy in nine years.”

Read more about why Rushdie is employing lawyers to prove his name that he was never referred to as “Scruffy.”



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