1

LIFE WITH A NEW PRIME MINISTER

On the 2nd May 1997 Britain had a new Government and Prime Minister. Tony Blair became the first Labour Prime Minister since 1979. Having previously been with John Major I was transferred to Tony Blair’s team and served with him for the first 3 years of his premiership.

I look at some of the moments I witnessed, the Blair’s relationship with Princess Diana and Tony Blair’s involvement with the Royal family after her untimely death, ‘The Good Friday’ agreement and the first official visit of Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness to 10 Downing Street.

Proposed Lecture

 

Experience 

 

Graham was born and educated in North London on reaching the age of 17 he joined the Metropolitan Police Cadet Corp and trained at Hendon for 12 months before being posted to Paddington Green police Station.

 

In January 1974 at the age of 19 he returned to Hendon to the Police Training School graduating in May of that year and was posted to Highbury Vale police Station where he served for 11 years. During the next 4 years he was attached to various units until November 1990 when he transferred to Special Branch (A Squad Diplomatic Close Protection Unit) where he served until his retirement.

 

He now lives in Cyprus and is involved in organising events and raising funds for local charities. He is very much in demand in delivering speeches to local organisations.

 

He was a founder member of the CLA and in this position has lectured with Celebrity, Princess and CMV cruise lines.

 

Retirement has to be the best job ever.

 2

LIVING UNDER THE THREAT OF A FATWAH

 

In September 1988 Salman Rushdie published his fourth novel ‘The Satanic Verses’.  The publication of the book provoked protests from Muslims in several countries across the world. On the 14th February 1989 a ‘Fatwa’ issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, was proclaimed on Tehran radio, requiring the death of Salman Rushdie.

This was the beginning of a new and dangerous life for Salman Rushdie and those who protected him. He was in real fear of his life and the British Government afforded him 24hour protection in secret locations throughout the UK.

I was part of the Special Branch protection team that protected him from 1991 -1995.  Special Branch has been described as the executive arm of the Secret Service and a political police force, so what was it like for Salman a self-proclaimed left wing socialist to be living with his Special Branch protection team?

In 2012 Salman Rushdie published a book about the experiences and consequences he suffered as a result of the publication ‘The Satanic Verses’.

In the book he recalls his time under Police protection and reveals what I consider to have been very sensitive information, which is now in open forum.

Prepared for

The Royal Geographical Society - HK

Graham Burns