Paul McCartney divorces Heather Mills

Paul McCartney’s divorce from his second wife Heather Mills was finalised on 18 February 2008.

The couple first met on 20 May 1999 at the first annual Pride Of Britain Awards ceremony at London’s Dorchester Hotel. He proposed marriage on 23 July 2001, and they married seven months later. The wedding took place at Castle Leslie in the village of Glaslough in County Monaghan, Ireland.

Following some months apart, McCartney and Mills formally separated on 17 May 2006. In November Mills gave a number of interviews in which she blamed the breakdown of the marriage on Paul’s daughter Stella, whom she called “jealous” and “evil”.

Mills dismissed her initial lawyer, Anthony Julius from Mishcon de Reya, choosing instead to represent herself with assistance from her sister Fiona, solicitor-advocate David Rosen, and US attorney Michael Shilub. McCartney’s solicitor was Fiona Shackleton, who had previously represented the Duke of York, Prince (later King) Charles in their respective divorces from Sarah Ferguson and Diana, Princess of Wales.

In leaked documents, Mills claimed that McCartney was often drunk, smoked cannabis, stabbed her with a broken wine glass, pushed her over a table, and pushed her into a bathtub when she was pregnant. She claimed that her roles in the marriage had been as a full-time wife, mother, lover, confidante, business partner, and psychologist to McCartney. His lawyers countered the claims by quoting passages from her 2006 book Life Balance: The Essential Keys to a Lifetime of Wellbeing, which contained glowing references to the former Beatle.

The six-day case was heard in court 34 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Mills began by asking for £125 million; McCartney made a counter-offer of £15.8 million.

The court case concluded on 18 February 2008. Mills was awarded a lump sum of £16.5 million, plus assets of £7.8 million, included the properties she owned at the time. McCartney was also made to pay £35,000 per annum for a nanny and school costs for their child Beatrice.

The husband’s evidence was, in my judgement, balanced. He expressed himself moderately though at times with justifiable irritation, if not anger. He was consistent, accurate and honest. But I regret to have to say I cannot say the same about the wife’s evidence. Having watched and listened to her give evidence, having studied the documents, and having given in her favour every allowance for the enormous strain she must have been under (and in conducting her own case) I am driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid. Overall, she was a less than impressive witness.
Mr Justice Bennett, presiding judge

Mr Justice Bennett also ruled that there was no evidence of Mills’s “charitable giving” in her tax returns, described her claim to have been McCartney’s business partner as “make-believe”, and called her a “volatile and explosive” personality who could be her “own worst enemy”. He also said: “I find that, far from the husband dictating to and restricting the wife’s career and charitable activities, he did the exact opposite. He encouraged it and lent his support, name and reputation to her business and charitable activities. The facts as I find them do not in any way support her claim.”

During the final day in court, Mills poured a jug of water over the head of Fiona Shackleton inside the courtroom.

The judgement was made public on 17 March. The preliminary divorce was granted on 12 May, and the decree absolute became final a week later.

Last updated: 7 March 2024
Album release: Liverpool 8 by Ringo Starr
Paul McCartney live: Brit Awards 2008, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London
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