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Southwold: PD James - Rushdie ‘never used my home as a hideout’

PUBLISHED: 10:06 09 November 2010

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie

THE queen of crime fiction has refuted claims that Salman Rushdie used her Suffolk holiday home as a hideout during the fatwa.

Baroness James, otherwise known as author PD James, claims that the grapevine of Southwold would have been buzzing with the news had she tried to harbour the controversial author.

She said at the weekend: “There are no secrets in Southwold.”

Baroness James, who sits on the Conservative benches in he House of Lords, has a seaside home in the picturesque town and a highly sought after beach hut.

John Miller, who sits on the town council and knows Baroness James through her work with the Ways of Words show, agrees.

He told the EADT: “I have never heard the rumours, although it does sound like it would have been quite exciting.

“I am trying to be modest and honest here, but I think someone would have told John Miller if he had been here.”

He added: “If the baroness says he was not here then I would accept that, she is pretty straight forward.”

Salman Rushdie was forced to go into hiding under the round-the-clock protection of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch in February 1989 after then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa.

He claimed the author’s controversial fourth book The Satanic Verses was blasphemous because of its depiction of the prophet Muhammad and ordered his execution.

The threat of assassination hung over him for nine years until 1998.

While the residents of Southwold remain adamant that they were not harbouring the literary fugitive, Mr Miller believes it would have been an ideal location.

“Southwold is the type of place you could quite easily disappear, people wouldn’t think of coming here.”

Landlady at the Red Lion, Teresa Baggott, added: “Southwold was always one of those places where everyone knew everyone so it is unlikely.

“Things have moved on and it has lost that personal feel because we have a lot of holidaymakers and people with second homes here, nowadays the rich and famous come here for a quiet weekend so there is no reason why Salman Rushdie couldn’t - but it wouldn’t have stayed a secret all those years ago.”

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