LONDON – Author Salman Rushdie has threatened to sue a publisher over a book by a former bodyguard that he said portrays him as cheap, nasty and arrogant and depicts his police guards as "losers" who drank on duty.
Rushdie said Saturday that the book, "On Her Majesty's Service," contained "a bunch of lies." The author's lawyer said he had written to the publisher demanding that the as-yet-unpublished memoir be withdrawn.
The book was co-written by Ron Evans, a former Metropolitan Police officer who was one of the team guarding Rushdie while he was under an Iranian-backed death threat for his 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses."
The book — described as an account of "the thrills, spills and despairs" of Evans' career — claims Rushdie billed the police force for officers' overnight stays at his house; that guards nicknamed him "Scruffy"; and that at one point, the officers got so fed up they locked him in a cupboard while they went to the pub.
Rushdie, 61, told The Associated Press that Evans' account was "entirely fictitious."
"Nothing remotely like this ever happened in the nine years I was receiving police protection," he said. "I simply wish to protect my reputation from a bunch of lies."
Rushdie told The Guardian newspaper that the book portrayed him as "mean, nasty, tightfisted, arrogant and extremely unpleasant."
Rushdie's lawyer, Mark Stephens, said he wrote to the book's publisher, John Blake Publishing Ltd., on Wednesday asking it to withdraw the book and remove "the falsehoods relating to our client and his friends, the various statements that invade their privacy and statements about security precautions that remain in place."
Stephens, who also does legal work for the AP, said he would begin legal proceedings unless those steps were taken.
Calls to John Blake Publishing went unanswered Saturday.
The book was due to be published next week, but Internet retailer Amazon lists no date for its availability.
Evans has a 2005 conviction for false accounting, according to court records. He has left the police and now operates a private security firm.
Rushdie said the book imperiled other people receiving police protection by revealing details of Scotland Yard's secret operations.
"What he has done is essentially given a road map for anybody to read who is maliciously inclined," Rushdie said.
Rushdie, whose books include the Booker Prize-winning "Midnight's Children" and this year's "The Enchantress of Florence," said his relations with the officers who protected him were "professional, cordial and very often friendly."
He said "people I respect and admire, people who risked their lives to look after me ... have been defamed in this book."
"They never drank on duty. They never went to the pub. They never even accepted drinks when I went to the homes of my friends.
"It sticks in my throat to see them described as this bunch of drunken, vindictive losers."
The Metropolitan Police said the force could not comment on Evans' allegations, but said in a statement: "We regret that he chooses to publish this book."
"The Satanic Verses" angered many in the Muslim world and brought a death sentence for blasphemy from Iran's then-leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Rushdie lived in hiding for a decade until the Iranian government distanced itself from the order in 1998, saying it would not back any effort to kill Rushdie. He has since gradually returned to public life, and spends much of his time in New York.