Sir Salman Rushdie wages questions over new book – libel, or freedom of expression?

Salman Rushdie is threatening to sue publisher John Blake Publishing Ltd. over a book by a former bodyguard that he says portrays him as mean, nasty, tight-fisted, arrogant, and extremely unpleasant. Rushdie’s lawyer Mark Stephens wrote a letter to the publisher, demanding that the book – called On Her Majesty’s Service – be withdrawn from publication. Rushdie has been accused of trying to stop freedom expression, which would be a curious move contrary to what he has long advocated. However, Rushdie has asserted that he is not trying to prevent his former bodyguard – Ron Evens – from publishing the book, but that if the publication goes as planned, there will be consequences and there will be a libel action, citing a difference between free-speech and libel.

Rushdie knighted in honours list

Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa, has been knighted by the Queen. His book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and a bounty was placed on his head in 1989. But since the Indian-born author returned to public life in 1999, he has not shied away from controversy. A devout secularist, he backed Commons Leader Jack Straw over comments on Muslim women and veils and has warned against Islamic “totalitarianism”. The son of a successful businessman, Sir Salman was born into a Muslim family in Mumbai in 1947. He was educated in England at Rugby School and studied history at Cambridge University.