‘Rushdie sought money from police for protecting him’

July 28th, 2008 - 11:55 am ICT by IANS  

London, July 28 (IANS) If British police detectives who guarded Salman Rushdie during the fatwa days are to be believed, the “Satanic Verses” author used to demand money from them for protecting him. At least that is what ex-Special Branch detective Ron Evans claims in his recently released autobiography “On her Majesty’s Service”, The Telegraph reported.

Evans guarded Rushdie for three years in London in 1989, at the height of the threats on his life following a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.

He describes Rushdie as tight-fisted, arrogant and rude. The detectives nicknamed him Scruffy for his unkempt appearance. Evans was assigned to armed protection duties when Rushdie was under house arrest for his own safety in a Wimbledon home.

Security was so tight that not even the author’s son, Zafar, was allowed to meet him. On one occasion, an Asian newspaper delivery boy was mistaken for a terrorist and nearly shot.

Oblivious to all this, Rushdie expected the detectives to pay him money for their sparse lodgings in the safe house, says Evans.

He says the protection team paid Rushdie 10 pounds ($20) a night lodging allowance but were reimbursed 25 pounds by the taxpayer and were given an extra 16 pounds food allowance.

“I shook my head, which felt like it was about to explode. We were paying or, rather, the taxpayer was paying Rushdie to protect him!” he says.

The book is full of such anecdotes. One describes how the detectives were on one occasion confined to their rooms so Rushdie - codenamed Joe - could spend an intimate evening with girlfriend and later third wife Elizabeth West.

Evans writes that one night he and his colleagues had some wine and went into the house looking for more. They found some bottles. When they sought Rushdie’s permission, the author allegedly asked them to shell out 45 pounds per bottle.

Evans says the security staff was distressed with Rushdie’s behaviour and decided to do something about it. He says: “The original team with Scruffy 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.”

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