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Far from Penny Lane

Heather Mills gets $48.6 million in her divorce from ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.

March 18, 2008|Kim Murphy | Times Staff Writer

LONDON -- They say money can't buy you love. But don't tell that to Heather Mills, who won a $48.6-million divorce settlement Monday from former Beatle Paul McCartney, concluding a case so nasty even this city's salacious tabloids may be glad to see the end of it.

But no -- it's not over yet. Mills, a mere minutes after declaring she was "just glad it's over," declared she would be back in court again today in an attempt to seal the full text of the divorce judgment, in what she said was an attempt to protect her young daughter.

"I won't go into the horrific details of what has happened," Mills said outside the High Court, as she proceeded through a 10-minute diatribe that lit into the judge (for allegedly undervaluing McCartney's assets), her ex-husband's lawyer (who "called me many, many names before even meeting me, when I was in a wheelchair"), and McCartney, who was accused of skimping on payments for first-class flights for the couple's 4-year-old daughter.

"She's obviously meant to travel B class, while her father travels A class," said Mills, 40, who married the 65-year-old musician, most often known in Britain as "Sir Paul," in 2002. The couple separated four years later, in April 2006.

"The most important thing for me was just to get this over and done with," Mills said.

McCartney, dressed in a conservative white shirt, blue tie and black raincoat, left the courthouse with a brief wave to reporters.

Mills, who represented herself after parting company with her lawyer, Anthony Julius, had sought an award of nearly $250 million, while McCartney countered with a settlement offer of $31.6 million.

The ruling includes about $33 million in cash and $15.6 million in assets, and also calls for the couple's daughter to receive support payments of $70,000 a year, plus nanny and school fees. Mills called it "an incredible result to secure mine and my daughter's future."

Judge Hugh Bennett's publicly released summary ruling found there was "no evidence at all" of Mills' claim that McCartney was worth $1.6 billion, finding that the total value of the musician's assets was closer to $800 million.

Mills said she is appealing release of the judgment because it would reveal details about her daughter -- including where she goes to school -- that ought to be kept private.

A former model and animal rights activist whose leg was partially amputated after a motorcycle accident in 1993, Mills had launched blistering attacks in court papers, on television and on her website against her former husband and especially against the highly negative press coverage of the case.

"They've called me a whore, a gold digger, a fantasist and a liar," she said in one of a series of torrid television appearances in October.

In court papers leaked to the press in 2006, Mills accused McCartney of pushing her into the bathtub while she was pregnant; refusing to let her breast-feed, saying "they are my breasts"; and attempting to choke her during an argument. McCartney's spokesmen denied the allegations.

McCartney's lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, who also represented Prince Charles in his divorce from the late Diana, Princess of Wales, also did not comment.

But her hair may have.

The well-known attorney entered the courthouse at her client's side with her trademark, carefully styled blond hair. She exited after the hearing with damp, flattened hair, prompting an immediate need on the part of inquiring minds to know what had happened in between.

The BBC phoned Mills, who told the network that Shackleton "had been baptized in court."

Did that mean Mills had baptized her?

Mills, the BBC said, "would not say."

--

kim.murphy@latimes.com

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