London, Aug.2 : Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie has threatened to sue John Blake Publishing Ltd. for agreeing to publish a new book that portrays him as a "mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant and extremely unpleasant" man.
Ron Evans has written the book, which is titled "On Her Majesty's Service", and he describes Rushdie as a cheapskate, who wanted to charge the security detail around him 45 pounds for each bottle of red wine that they drank. The book also alleges that when officers stayed overnight in his home, he billed the Metropolitan Police a rent of "at least forty quid a night for special branch officers, who were risking their lives to stop him being taken out by followers of the fatwa announced by Iran's Ayatollah Khomenei.
Evans 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 then went to the local pub for a pint or two. When they were suitably refreshed they came back and let him out."
He also claims that Rushdie was nicknamed "Scruffy" because of his unkempt appearance.
Rushdie told the Guardian: "He (Evans) is portraying me as mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant and extremely unpleasant. In my humble opinion I am none of those things."
"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 adds.
"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," he said.
"This is not a free speech issue, this is libel - there is a difference between those two things. I can defend the truth, I will not have my character destroyed and presented to the world as something that it is not. I am not trying to prevent him from publishing his stupid book but if they publish it as it is there will be consequences and there will be a libel action," he warned.
In 2005 Evans was convicted at Feltham magistrates court on nine counts of false accounting and later ordered to pay 6,280.85 pounds in fines and to cover prosecution costs at Isleworth crown court. He was also ordered to pay compensation.
The Metropolitan police said: "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 ... 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."
Yesterday the publishing house refused to speak. Evans could not be contacted.
The publication of the Satanic Verses in 1988 led to protests across the world from Muslims who claimed the book was blasphemous because of its irreverent portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. In February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini announced a fatwa on Iranian radio calling on Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie. The author was forced into hiding only rarely appearing in public. In 1998 at the United Nations, then Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi told Robin Cook, then British foreign secretary, that Iran would restrain itself from threatening Rushdie's life.