Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Brand guards 'punch photographers'

Russell Brand sits with others in a jeep during a jungle safari at the Ranthambore National Park in India (AP)
Russell Brand and Katy Perry are due to get married at a resort near Ranthambore National Park in India

Four news photographers have claimed that they were punched by two men accompanying comedian Russell Brand when they were taking pictures of Brand at an Indian tiger reserve one day before his scheduled wedding to American pop singer Katy Perry.

According to Associated Press photographer Mustaf Quraishi, who was one of the four photographers injured, Brand himself looked on during the assault as the photographers tried to defend themselves before being left stranded in the wild animal park.

The photographers were following about 330ft behind two jeeps - one carrying Brand, a woman who was not Perry, a man and two children, and the other carrying a bodyguard and a man later described by police as Brand's friend and wedding guest.

As the photographers from Associated Press (AP), Reuters, Agence France-Presse and the Hindustan Times newspaper took photographs of Brand, the man came up to the jeep, punched their driver in the face and grabbed the vehicle's keys, said Mr Quraishi.

Mr Quraishi said he jumped out of the jeep to try to retrieve the keys, but he was punched him repeatedly, breaking his glasses, smashing and then taking his camera flash and opening up a cut on his arm.

Two other photographers came to Mr Quraishi's assistance, he said, but the man and the bodyguard began hitting them, causing one to bleed from the head.

The guards then drove away, leaving the photographers stranded in the Ranthambore National Park, which is home to tigers, leopards, wild boars, hyenas and sloth bears, Mr Quraishi said. Park rangers later retrieved the keys from the guards' driver.

Brand and American pop singer Perry are scheduled to get married today at a resort near the reserve in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Private security has been stationed at the hotels where guests and the couple are staying.

The couple have given the exclusive coverage rights to a London magazine, and no other photographers or journalists will be allowed into the resort.

Brand, 35, was arrested at a Los Angeles airport on September 17 for allegedly assaulting a paparazzi. He was later released on $20,000 (£12,700) bail. The case is pending.

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