Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Mills 'celebrates' £24m divorce

Heather Mills leaves court after securing a £24.3m divorce settlement from Sir Paul McCartney
Heather Mills leaves court after securing a £24.3m divorce settlement from Sir Paul McCartney

The divorce settlement was £100m less than she was looking for, but that didn't stop Heather Mills celebrating on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday, in her characteristically confrontational fashion.

After 21 months of increasingly acrimonious proceedings, followed with enthusiasm by the world's media, Ms Mills finally learnt how big a share of Sir Paul McCartney's wealth she was entitled to, following her four year marriage to the former Beatle.

A judge in the Family Court awarded the former model £24.3m in her divorce settlement with her estranged ex-husband. It was a long way short of the £125m she had originally asked for, but substantially more than Sir Paul's best offer of £15.8m.

Ms Mills, a former model turned charity fundraiser who represented herself throughout the latter stages of the proceedings after falling out with her lawyers, claimed to be, "very, very pleased" with the final figure.

Earlier however, she had thrown a glass of water over the head of her former husband's lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, who emerged from the court with her hair drenched but smiling.

"I'm so, so happy with this," Ms Mills said outside court. "It was an incredible result in the end to secure mine and my daughter's future and that of all the charities that I obviously plan on helping and making a difference with – because you know it has been my life for 20 years."

In a highly unusual step, Mr Justice Bennett published summary details of the awardin an effort to quell press speculation over the final settlement of the divorce.

Sir Paul was ordered to pay his former wife a lump sum of £16.5m plus further assets worth £7.8m. The deal, hammered out by Mr Justice Bennett after the couple failed to reach an agreement last month, includes an award of £2.5m for Ms Mills to buy a house in London. Sir Paul will also have to pay £35,000 a year in maintenance for the couple's four-year-old daughter, Beatrice, as well as any school and nanny fees.

Ms Mills said she had no plans to appeal against the judgment but would contest the court's decision to publish full details of the judgment on the grounds that it contained private details about the couple's daughter. The courts are expected to rule on that appeal today.

Sir Paul chose to make no comment to the scrum of reporters gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday afternoon, slipping away in a blacked-out limousine, as his former wife held an impromptu and often rambling press conference in which she made a series of attacks on him and gave legal advice to would-be divorce claim-ants, following her experience of representing herself during the proceedings.

"What I'd like to say, being a campaigning girl, is anybody wanting to go through a divorce, try your hardest, man or woman, to settle it immediately," she advised. "And if you're in an impossible situation – which anybody listening will know that, people don't see eye to eye, things get out of hand – you can be a litigant in person. It's not easy, but just make sure you do all your research, save yourselves a fortune."

She also claimed that the courts disliked those who represented themselves. "The law courts don't want me to say this, they don't want to see a litigating person do well," she said.

In an often emotional statement Ms Mills criticised her former husband over maintenance payments to date saying: "Beatrice only gets £35,000 a year – so obviously she's meant to travel B class while her father travels A class, but obviously I will pay for that."

Ms Mills also launched a scathing attack on the legal system calling it a "club" and disputed the judge's decision to revise Sir Paul's fortune from £800m to £400m.

"These people are in a club," she said. "It's like they want to stay together and they don't want a litigant in person to do well. Everybody knows he has been worth £800 [million] for the last 15 years. And I wasn't allowed any access to any of our accounts, nothing. I wasn't allowed to look at what we spent, where we went, I was locked out of every home – I won't go into all the horrific details of what has happened because I'm just glad it's over."

Vanessa Lloyd-Platt, an independent divorce law specialist, warned yesterday that Ms Mills' emotional tirade may have breached a gagging order within the settlement intended to prevent either party from talking about personal details of the marriage.

In her own words...

  • On representing herself: "Do it yourself, be a litigating person. You know, the power of one."
  • On Sir Paul's divorce lawyer: "Fiona Shackleton has very sadly handled this case in the worst manner you can ever, ever imagine. She has called me many, many names before even meeting me when I was in a wheelchair.
  • On the final figure: "All of you that have researched know that it was always going to be ... between £20m and £30m. Paul was offering a lot less than that, which you'll see in the judgment ... to put me and Beatrice sadly through this – it's been incredibly sad."
  • On Beatrice's maintenance payment: "Beatrice only gets £35,000 a year – so obviously she's meant to travel B class while her father travels A class, but obviously I will pay for that."
  • On the press: "At least you can start getting some really good headlines on the front pages, of important issues ... instead of our boring divorce. I'm sure everyone ... is fed up of hearing a million figures that never existed."

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