London, Dec 16: Author William Dalrymple finds himself in the midst of a bizzare e-stalking menace.
London’s literary circles have been bombarded by anonymous emails that give sordid details of an alleged summer fling gone wrong. Sent out by an undisclosed email address and signed off as Ms Equaliser, the emails went out to nearly 1,000 people, including authors and journalists.
These revealed details of correspondence Dalrymple had sent to friends, including a section editor at Guardian Newspapers who had also had an affair with the same Asian woman. They included details of correspondence Dalrymple had sent to his lawyers as well.
The author of books like White Mughals and City of Djinns believes someone had hacked into his computer to obtain the material and then sent it to hundreds of people who knew him. He is believed to have accused Farah Damji, the woman behind the alleged love affair, of breaking into his email account. He and his artist wife Olivia Fraser have contacted the police.
Damji, the editor of a magazine called IndoBrit, denies she is Ms Equaliser. The fallout of the affair erupted in public last month, when Damji’s tell-all pieces appeared in a number of British and Indian publications and has snowballed ever since. n Turn to Page 2
Dalrymple has responded to the emails by sending a message to scores of friends claiming that he and his wife were being pursued by a stalker. "It’s all ghastly. These latest emails were obtained by criminal means," he said.
Sarah Thomas, Dalrymple’s solicitor, said someone had hacked into his computer and committed offences under the Computer Misuse Act by sending out the emails. She sent her own message to the same 800 people warning them they had received legally privileged and confidential information and telling them to delete it immediately.
The emails reveal Damji’s claim that Dalrymple seduced her on a pile of scatter cushions under a towering plum tree in the walled garden of his home at Chiswick in west London one night this summer while his wife was away.
Later, when the relationship ended, she wrote an account on the Internet of their affair in which she describes how she "circled his flame like a jehadi moth, intoxicated by the white-hot power of his words."
The British press has had a field day with the story and the Sunday Times quoted Damji as saying that Dalrymple was planning his own screenplay which might reflect the torturous end of their affair. "It is the romance that turned to hell. But I have no idea who Ms Equaliser is," she said.
Some of the emails revealed by Damji show that her nickname for him was Sweet Baronet, a reference to his father, Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, the former Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian. In turn, Dalrymple called her Farah-ji and begged her not to dedicate a book she was writing to the plum tree.