Monday, June 12, 2006


The Heather Mills fightback may or may not include legal action against the News of the World, her lawyer has hinted.

In what appears to be a shot across the News International bows, her legal team have reminded the paper of a previous back-down:

Mills McCartney's lawyer, Stephen Taylor, told the Guardian that four years ago the News of the World had been threatening to print the allegations for three or four consecutive Sundays - but had not published. "We threatened legal action and that stopped it." Mr Taylor said he would today discuss taking legal action against the News of the World over the allegations with Mills McCartney .

The MediaGuardian website also - as is essential when talking of these matters, it seems - got an uncredited observation on the affair. But rather than "a friend" or "pals", they've got a quote from a former News International executive:

"There are a few people, and McCartney is one of them, whom editors are reluctant to have a real go at. If you attacked Heather, you attacked Paul and the public might not like that." The executive said it was not just that Sir Paul had the wealth to sue, it was that if he launched a public attack on News International, or another newspaper group, he could do serious harm to their sales.

The executive also suggested that Sir Paul knew all about the allegations against Mills McCartney and might even have spoken to Rupert Murdoch about them. "But now she has lost Paul's protection, it's gloves-off time."

The question, of course, is if she really has lost Paul's protection - after all, there's been no definitive indication of what Macca is thinking. It could be that he's still on good enough terms with Heather to want to fight for her reputation; equally, he might view that this continued stream of press coverage paints him as a bit of a thicko who married an old hooker without realising and decide that it's in his interests, as much as his ex-wife's, to conclude the chapter as quickly as possible.

The Murdoch press seems to be betting quite heavily that Paul is more interested in leaving Heather out to dry than helping her. In itself, that's quite curious.

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