Controversial rapper EMINEM sparked an international security row when he performed live on a warship anchored just metres away from French President JACQUES CHIRAC's frigate.

The French premier is currently on a state visit to Britain and keeps the Tourville ship close by should there be a terrorist attack and he needs to get away quickly.

French security agents were aghast to learn that the JUST LOSE IT star was planning to perform on former navy ship and current tourist attraction HMS Belfast, which is moored on the south bank of London's River Thames, for Friday's (19NOV04) BBC television show Top Of The Pops.

Eminem's British record label POLYDOR spent all morning in heated dialogue with French security officials and the performance almost didn't go ahead.

The 32-year-old was eventually given the go-ahead after secret service agents agreed an exclusion zone around the French ship after news of the show was leaked to fans. Six French scuba divers who took up position in the Thames also protected the ship from any potential intruders.

A Polydor insider says, "We couldn't announce the gig because we reckoned it could get pulled straight away. The French were very worried about the proximity if this event to the French ship. We were told this is the Frigate that Chirac gets choppered to if there is a situation.

"They didn't want hundreds of people crammed around his boat and said they would have to take all sorts of precautions to make sure nothing went wrong. We intentionally held off announcing the gig because they were so concerned about the numbers of people down there."

21/11/2004 10:46