Morrissey 'terrorised' by Rome police officer

Alternative rock icon Morrissey said that he was "terrorised" by a police officer in Rome who held him at gunpoint for half an hour on a busy street.
Alternative rock icon Morrissey said that he was "terrorised" by a police officer in Rome who held him at gunpoint for half an hour on a busy street.PHOTO: AFP

New York (AFP) - British rock singer Morrissey said on Wednesday that he was "terrorised" by a police officer in Rome who held him at gunpoint for half an hour on a busy street.

The outspoken 58-year-old, a longtime lover of Rome who has returned to the Italian capital to record an album, said the officer unlocked his gun and "screamed into my face" as a crowd of more than 100 people watched.

Morrissey's nephew Sam Esty Rayner, a photographer who often takes footage of him, posted a picture of the officer and wrote his motorbike's licence plate number on Facebook.

"The police officer pictured below terrorised Morrissey for 35 minutes demanding 'papers'. Morrissey had no papers," Rayner wrote.

Morrissey in a statement accused the officer of a "deliberate act of terror" and said he had not broken any law.

"I believe he recognised me and wanted to frighten me. I did not back down even though I believed he was about to shoot me," he said. "I urge people to beware of this dangerously aggressive officer. He might kill you."

Morrissey has frequently criticised the police both in his music and off stage. In 2015, he said he was "sexually assaulted" by an officer at San Francisco International Airport who touched him during a security check.

The singer, who first found fame as the frontman of The Smiths in the 1980s, has won a fanatical fan base with his elegant, sardonic lyricism.

He is a staunch opponent of the British monarchy and campaigner for animal rights, refusing to play in venues while meat is served.