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Heather Mills

Heather Mills in a promotional photo for PETA
Born 12 January 1968 (1968-01-12) (age 42)
Aldershot, Hampshire, England
Residence Robertsbridge, East Sussex &
Hove, East Sussex &
Hampstead, London &
Manhattan, New York
Nationality English
Education Usworth Grange Primary school & Usworth Comprehensive, Washington, Tyne and Wear.
Hydeburn School, London
Occupation Former model and charity campaigner
Net worth £24.3 million + (estimated)
Height 5 feet 8¼ inches
Spouse(s) Alfie Karmal (1989–1991) [divorced]
Paul McCartney (2002–2008) [divorced]
Children Beatrice Milly McCartney
28 October 2003 (2003-10-28) (age 6)
Parents John "Mark" Francis Mills
Beatrice Mary Finlay
Relatives Shane Mills (brother)
Fiona Mills (sister)
Claire Mills (half-sister)
Website
www.heathermills.org

Heather Anne Mills (born 12 January 1968) is an English charity campaigner and former model, and the former wife of musician Paul McCartney; during the marriage she was called Heather Mills McCartney. Mills has an older brother, Shane, a younger sister, Fiona and a half-sister, Claire.

Mills started her own model agency, in 1986 and married Alfie Karmal, on 6 May 1989, but divorced in 1991. Mills was living with her ski instructor Milos Pogacar in Croatia in 1990, just before the Croatian War started and later organised supplies for Croatia, accepting modelling assignments in Austria to pay for the trip. In London, in 1993, Mills was hit by a police motorbike and suffered serious injuries, losing her left leg, 6 inches below her knee. She later sold her story to the News of the World and used the proceeds to establish the Heather Mills Health Trust, which recycles discarded prosthetic limbs[citation needed].

Mills met McCartney at a Pride of Britain charity event and they were married on 11 June 2002. Mills gave birth to Beatrice Milly McCartney on 28 October 2003. Mills separated from McCartney in 2006, which led to a highly publicised divorce, in which she was awarded £24.3 million in a court settlement, on 17 March 2008. Mills is a patron of Viva, the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation, vice-president of the Limbless Association and was formerly a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Association Adopt-A-Minefield program. She continues to work on behalf of various campaigns, including aid for amputees, animal rights and for the banning of land mines. Mills was dropped by PETA after McCartney's daughter Mary told PETA that she would only take photographs for the organisation if Mills was no longer representing PETA.[1]

Contents

Early life

Mills was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, to John "Mark" Francis Mills (a British ex-paratrooper) and his wife, Beatrice Mary Mills, née Finlay, who was the daughter of a colonel in the British Army.[2] Mills' father was adopted at age seven and grew up in Brighton, where his foster parents had a grocery shop, although his foster-father also worked as a mechanic for a Grand Prix racing team.[3] Her mother was born in India, during World War II, but was educated at English boarding schools. Mills' parents met at Newcastle University, and were married against the wishes of Finlay's father, who did not attend the wedding, and only saw his daughter once more before he died.[3] Mills' mother spoke several languages and played the piano, and her father played banjo and guitar, liked photography (winning an Evening Standard award) and took part in numerous sports.[3] He was very fond of animals (working for the RSPCA for a time) and Mills remembered her family always having a dog and a cat, as well as once having a pet goose and a white nanny goat that was allowed to roam the house in Libanus, near Brecon, which was a house Mills' grandparents had.[3] Her family spent their holidays in Libanus and also lived there for a time.[4][5] When Mills was six years old the family moved north to Alnwick, in Northumberland,[3] but moved shortly after to a block of flats in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and then on to "Cockshott Farm," in Rothbury, Northumberland.[2][6] Mills attended Usworth Grange Primary school,[7] and then Usworth Comprehensive school in Washington.[8][9] (She visited Usworth Comprehensive in 2003, as guest of honour at a prize-giving event and to support the school against plans for its closure).[7]

Mills later wrote that she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a swimming pool attendant when she was eight years old,[10] but her next door neighbour, Margaret Ambler, who was sexually abused by the swimming pool attendant, alleged that Mills' story was "nothing what she made it out to be", that Mills was never a victim, and the pool attendant did not commit suicide, as Mills had written.[11] Although having received a letter from Mills offering £10,000 to stop a court case, Ambler complained that the story had caused her deep discomfort by bringing the incident to national attention, so she sued for breach of privacy, accepting an out-of-court settlement of £5,000 in compensation, and £54,000 legal costs.[8][12][13]

Mills' mother left home when Mills was nine years old, which left Mills, her older brother Shane, and her younger sister, Fiona, in the care of their father.[10][14] Mills said that her father once threw her brother against a window for making a mess on the carpet with crayons. The window broke and her brother had to be taken to hospital, where Mills' father explained that the boy had fallen on some glass in the garden.[3] Fiona Mills said: "Our family were always short of money and our father demanded that we find food and clothes so we turned to shoplifting, learnt to hide from the bailiffs and became experts at domestic duties. I’m not ashamed to say that we were forced to steal because when you are a young child, you’d rather do that than face a beating from your father."[5] (Their father disputed his daughters' allegations that he was violent towards them,[15] later releasing home movies of family holidays in Lebanus, showing Mills playing happily).[16] Mills later wrote that she often stole food from supermarkets as a child: "By ten I was an old hand. Pinching food was really quite easy I discovered."[17] In 2006, she visited the Sainsbury's store in her home town and was refused entry by a member of staff because she had once been caught shoplifting there.[17]

London and modelling

When her father was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of fraud, Mills left home with her sister to live with her mother and partner (Crossroads actor Charles Stapley) in Clapham, London,[10][14] although her brother went to Brighton to live with his paternal grandparents.[5] Mills later wrote that at the age of 15 she ran away to join a funfair, and then lived in a cardboard box under Waterloo Station for four months, although Stapely refuted this by saying that she occasionally left home at weekends to travel with a young man who worked for a funfair in London.[10][18] During her stated period of homelessness, her school records indicate that she and her sister were both enrolled at Usworth comprehensive in Tyne and Wear until April 1983, and then at Hydeburn comprehensive in Clapham on 6 June 1983, where they both stayed until 2 July 1984.[14] Mills remembered that a teacher at the Hydeburn school once said, "there's no hope for her at all", and that she left school with no academic qualifications.[19] In the same year, her father had another daughter, Claire Mills, with a new partner.[20] Mills worked for a croissant shop, but was sacked, and vowed "never to work for anyone else again".[21] She later wrote that the owner of a jewellery shop in Clapham gave her a job on Saturdays, but Jim Guy (the owner of Penrose Jewellers) later stated: "Everything she wrote about me was lies, I never gave her a job; she just hung around and made tea. She told me her father was dead. The only thing that was true was she nicked [stole] stuff from the shop",[14] which Guy said was worth £20,000.[21] Mills admitted that she had stolen some gold chains and sold them to buy a moped, and when Guy reported the theft, she was put on probation.[10] Mills and her mother reconciled in 1989, but her mother died shortly after, during surgery for a minor thrombosis operation.[22] She then worked at a casino, a sunbed salon, and the Bananas cocktail bar in London.[5][23]

The front cover of Die Freuden der Liebe, featuring Mills and a male model

Alfie Karmal (the son of a Palestinian father and Greek mother) was ten years older than Mills when they met in 1986, while she was working as a waitress at the Bananas cocktail club in Wardour Street, London.[24] Karmal bought her new clothes, Cartier jewellery and paid for cosmetic surgery when she complained that her breasts were sagging. She later said that she had had a breast reduction operation, reducing her bra size from a 34E to a 34C.[19] She reached the final of the Cinzano Model of the Year Competition,[21] so Karmal, who had moved into the computer industry, set up a model agency for her, ExSell Management,[25] although it was not successful.[10] Mills later tried to sell it for £5,000 but could not find a buyer.[23] In 1987 Mills went to live in Paris,[26] telling Karmal that a cosmetics company had given her a modelling contract, but became the mistress of millionaire Lebanese businessman George Kazan for two years[24][27] and took part in a photo session for a stills-only German sex education manual called Die Freuden der Liebe (The Joys of Love),[28] in which she was photographed explicitly simulating sex with an equally nude male model called Peter Wilson. She received about £150. for the session.[29] She also modelled for full-frontal nude photographs.[30][31][32]

After returning to London, Mills asked Karmal to marry her. Karmal said yes, but on one condition: "I told her I couldn't marry her until she did something about her compulsive lying, and she agreed to see a psychiatrist for eight weeks. She admitted she had a problem and said it was because she'd been forced to lie as a child by her father." Mills had told Karmal that she had a driving licence, and three A-levels, which Karmal later learned was not true.[23] On 6 May 1989, Mills married Karmal (who had two sons from a previous marriage)[14] and moved into a four-bedroom house in Dobbs Weir, Hertfordshire.[23] Although Mills proposed to Karmal, she later said that every man she has been out with "has asked me to marry him within a week."[33] While married to Karmal, she suffered two ectopic pregnancies,[5][19] so Karmal paid for her to go on holiday to Croatia with his children and ex-wife (with whom Mills had become friends) in 1990,[34] but Mills ended up living with her ski instructor, Pogacar, shortly before the Croatian War began.[5][35] Mills then set up a refugee crisis centre in London, helping over 20 people to escape the war. She drove by herself to deliver donations to Croatia, taking modelling assignments in Austria on the way to pay for the trip,[10] later saying that she "worked on the front line in a war zone in the former Yugoslavia for two years where there were mines everywhere that weren't marked".[33] Karmal and Mills were divorced in 1991,[23][36] and Karmal now lives in Vancouver, Canada.[37] Mills was later engaged to Raffaele Mincione (a bond dealer for the Industrial Bank of Japan) in 1993.[38]

Accident and amputees

Anti-personnel mines, against which Mills campaigns

On 8 August 1993, Mills was standing with Mincione at the corner of De Vere Gardens and Kensington Road, London, but while crossing Kensington Road she was knocked down by a police motorcycle, the third in a convoy of three, which was responding to an emergency call.[39][40] Mills suffered crushed ribs, a punctured lung, and the loss of her left leg 6 inches below the knee; a metal plate was later attached to her pelvis.[41] In October 1993, she had another operation which further shortened her leg.[26] Mills was awarded £200,000 by the police authority as recompense for her injuries, even though the police motorcyclist, PC Osbourne, was later cleared by magistrates of driving without due care and attention.[42][43] After the accident, Mills sold her story to the News of the World, and gave other interviews, saying she earned £180,000.[26] She used the money to set up the Heather Mills Health Trust which delivers prosthetic limbs to people, particularly children, who have lost limbs after stepping on landmines.[10] Mills often shows people her prosthetic leg; once taking it off during an interview on the American talk show Larry King Live, in 2002.[44]

Mills booked herself into the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida,[45] which put her on a raw food vegan diet,[19] using wheat grass and garlic poultices to heal her wound.[5] After an operation, Mills discovered that she had been previously diagnosed as having an O rhesus negative blood type, when in fact she was A rhesus negative, which had interfered with her attempts to follow the so-called blood type diet.[19] As her prosthetic leg had to be replaced on a regular basis (because the size of the amputated stump kept changing as it healed) she had the idea to collect thousands of discarded prosthetic limbs for amputees in Croatia,[46] persuading the Brixton prison governor to get inmates to dismantle and pack them before being transported.[40][47] The first convoy of limbs arrived in Zagreb in October 1994, and Mills travelled with the convoy to film interviews with some of the recipients for the Good Morning with Anne and Nick daytime TV show.[48] However, Croatian citizens were already supplied with prosthetic limbs by the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance, which paid for the fitting of limbs and rehabilitation of patients.[40]

With the help of ghostwriter Pamela Cockerill, Mills wrote a book about her experience: Out on a Limb (1995) which was republished in America as A Single Step (2002).[14] Extracts from Out on a Limb were serialised in The Daily Mail in March 2000.[38] Mills handed all the proceeds from the book to Adopt-A-Minefield,[9] and stated that it was one of "the few charities that 100% of their donations goes to clear minefields and survivor assistance".[33] In 1995, Mills got engaged to British media executive Marcus Stapleton, after being together for only 16 days,[38] and was then engaged to respected documentary filmmaker Chris Terrill in 1999,[49][50] after only 12 days in Cambodia, where they were making a film about landmines.[51] Mills ended their relationship five days before their planned wedding day,[52] later telling friends in the media that she had called the wedding off because Terrill was gay,[53] an MI6 agent,[54] and that his mission was to undermine her anti-landmine work.[18][22] Terrill had once told Mills that he had been interviewed by the intelligence services when he was thinking of a career with the Foreign Office, but later said, "I soon realised that Heather had a somewhat elastic relationship with the truth, which she was able to stretch impressively sometimes".[18] Terrill also claims that although Mills stated she was a vegetarian at the time, she often cooked her speciality dish for him; Lancashire hotpot[18] (which contains lamb) and her ex sister-in-law, Dianna Karmal, claims that Mills only became a vegetarian after meeting McCartney.[55][56]

Relationship with Paul McCartney

Mills met McCartney in 1999, married in 2002, and divorced in 2008

Mills met McCartney at the Dorchester Hotel,[25] during the Pride of Britain Awards event in April 1999,[57] where McCartney presented an award to an animal rights activist,[38] and Mills presented the Outstanding Bravery Award to Helen Smith, also making an appeal on behalf of the Heather Mills Health Trust.[58][59] McCartney also presented an award dedicated to his late wife, Linda McCartney. McCartney talked to Mills about donating to her charity — later giving her £150,000.[26][60] In the autumn of 1999 Mills and her sister recorded "VO!CE"; a song they wrote to raise funds for Mills' charity, with McCartney agreeing to sing backing vocals.[61] After recording the song in Greece (where Mills’ sister lived, running the independent label Coda Records) the sisters stayed overnight at McCartney's estate in Peasmarsh, Sussex, in early November, where McCartney added vocals to the song.[38][62] Having sparked the interest of the tabloids about his appearances with Mills at events, McCartney appeared publicly beside her at a party in January 2000 to celebrate her 32nd birthday.[63][64]

While on holiday in the Lake District McCartney proposed to Mills on 23 July 2001, giving her a £15,000[21] diamond and sapphire ring he had purchased in Jaipur, India, when they were both there on holiday.[26][65] Former escort Denize Hewitt, then a friend, claims that Mills said she would give McCartney an ultimatum to marry her, and threatened to leave him if he refused.[12] Mills stipulated that McCartney had to agree to stop smoking cannabis before she agreed to marry him, saying that McCartney used the drug "as regularly as others drink cups of tea", and that she has never taken any illegal drugs in her life.[66]

Marriage

Mills and McCartney were married on 11 June 2002, four years after McCartney's first wife, Linda McCartney, had died of breast cancer.[67] Their wedding was an elaborate ceremony at Castle Leslie (once the home of Shane Leslie) in the village of Glaslough in County Monaghan, Ireland.[68] Mills said that she liked to cook traditional (but meat-free) Christmas dinners for McCartney and as many of his family as possible, and that McCartney had encouraged her to give up her self-confessed addiction to chocolate and Snickers bars.[19] When asked by chat-show host Larry King (in 2003) how life was with McCartney, Mills replied “Great, really great,” but also said that she was surprised at how tidy McCartney was: "He always cleans up before the cleaner comes. So I said for a while that's crazy, but what's good is if I cook the dinner, he'll clean everything up."[33]

Mills, McCartney and Vladimir Putin during a tour of the Kremlin in 2003.

In 2003, McCartney played a concert in Red Square, Russia. Vladimir Putin gave Mills and McCartney a tour of the Kremlin.[69] Mills went on every tour with McCartney during their marriage, as McCartney insisted on her accompanying him, with Mills saying that she helped to design the stage sets and lighting, and also helped McCartney to write songs.[70] McCartney later said that Mills's contribution was giving him an acrylic fingernail to protect a finger on his left hand that often bled after playing guitar.[71] McCartney admitted that Mills inspired him, as "being in love with her makes me want to write songs", such as "Too Much Rain" on Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,[72] and "Your Sunshine" ("She makes me feel glad/I want her so bad") from Memory Almost Full.[73] Another composition inspired by Mills was used as the bridal march at their wedding.[74]

During a "Parkinson" chat show on 22 February 2003 host Michael Parkinson asked if it was because of McCartney that Mills did not give any interviews, and she replied that she wanted to protect McCartney, his children, and their privacy.[75] On the same show she said that her previous ectopic pregnancies had damaged her fertility, and that her chances of getting pregnant were small,[75] although the couple announced that they were expecting their first child in May 2003.[33][76] Mills gave birth to Beatrice Milly McCartney on 28 October 2003, who was named after Mills' mother, and McCartney's aunt.[77] It was later revealed that Mills had suffered a miscarriage in the first year of marriage to McCartney.[78] Mills was invited by Larry King to interview Paul Newman, which was broadcast by CNN on 17 April 2004.[79][80] McCartney had arranged for Newman to be interviewed by Mills, but critical reactions to the show were mixed.[81] Mills appeared on other TV programmes, such as BBC1's Question Time and GMTV, and persuaded McCartney to join her on ITV's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.[82]

Although stating that they had a good sex life, Mills started complaining about the marriage to friends, saying that McCartney was “a boring old fart”, and wondering why he had no social life, as well as saying "he has no friends and it's driving me mad." She did not like living at the remote McCartney home in Peasmarsh: "The only thing he [McCartney] ever does is occasionally go to the pub with his roadie. We never have parties or do fun things."[82] After some time apart, Mills and McCartney separated on 17 May 2006.[83] In November 2007, Mills gave a number of interviews, saying that the breakdown of the marriage was caused by her husband's daughter, Stella, whom she described as "jealous" and "evil".[84][85] Mills had previously talked with New York Magazine, saying Stella had once issued a press release confirming how much she liked her new stepmother, although Stella's publicist denied that such a statement had ever been issued.[9]

After dismissing Anthony Julius, a Mishcon de Reya lawyer,[86] Mills stated she would represent herself in the upcoming divorce hearing,[87] with help from her sister (Fiona) David Rosen (a solicitor-advocate) and Michael Shilub, an American attorney.[88] In leaked documents, Mills complained 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 with their daughter.[22][89] Referring to her part in the marriage, Mills said that she had been a full-time wife, mother, lover, confidante, business partner and psychologist to McCartney.[90] McCartney’s lawyers studied Mills’ book: Life Balance: The Essential Keys to a Lifetime of Wellbeing (released on 25 May 2006) as it contradicted many of her claims, as when she praised McCartney in the book for "bringing me breakfast in bed every morning, no matter how he feels, and I do the dinner, so we’ve got that agreement. It’s thoughtfulness".[91][92] Mills' first husband, Karmal, revealed that Mills used to fly into rages, slap him around, and hit and kick him during their marriage, offering to join forces with McCartney and testify against her.[36][93] Mills' father reconciled with his daughter after meeting her and McCartney, when they introduced him to his granddaughter, Beatrice.[94] After their separation, he said that it "took guts to represent yourself at the High Court", and that he was proud of his daughter, even though he thought she would be “torn to shreds” by McCartney's lawyers.[95]

Divorce

The main entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice, where Mills and McCartney had their court hearing

The case was heard in court 34 of the Royal Courts of Justice, on The Strand, in the City of Westminster, London.[96][97] At the start of the proceedings Mills asked for £125 million, but McCartney offered £15.8 million.[98] Before the court case, Mills had employed the accountancy firm Lee and Allen to examine McCartney's publishing company, business assets and properties, saying that she had a tape recording of McCartney admitting his true worth, but the presiding judge, Justice Bennett, turned down numerous requests for information by Lee and Allen.[99] The judge accepted McCartney's assets as being £450 million, and not £800 million, as had been suggested.[100]

Mills stated that she needed approximately £360,000 for personal security, £175,000 for her daughter’s security, £176,000 a year for clothes, and the ownership of four homes:[101] one in Beverly Hills, one on Long Island and two in England with a combined value of £5,700,000 as well as £8 million (up to £12,500,000) to buy a home in London, £3 million to buy a home in New York, and £750,000 to buy an office in Brighton, England, for Mills’ sister. She also asked for £1 million for legal expenses, £650,500 a year for donations to charities, £650,400 a year to run seven properties with staff,[102] £500,000 a year for holidays, £186,000 a year for chartered helicopters,[103] £43,300 a year for a chauffeur, £20,000 a year for a caregiver, and £191,150 a year for "professional expenses". Mills unexpectedly asked for £40,000 a year for wine (although she rarely drinks alcohol) and £30,000 a year for equestrian activities,[104] but Justice Bennett had to remind her that she did not ride horses any more.[105] Justice Bennett questioned Mills' claim that before she met McCartney she had £2 million to £3 million in bank accounts, so she was asked to produce bank statements to verify the fact. Mills replied that she thought she had them at her home in Brighton, but no bank statements were ever shown to the court, which also cast doubt on her assertion that she gave 80% to 90% of her earned income to charities, as her tax returns (between 1997 and 2000) showed no charitable donations at all.[26][106] Near the end of the court case, Mills calmly poured a jug of water over the head of McCartney's solicitor, Fiona Shackleton, shouting, "You're a bitch! You're a traitor to your sex! How could you do this to another woman?" and, "I'm not a loser".[107][108][109]

The hearing took six days, finishing on 18 February 2008, with the judgment being made public on 17 March 2008.[26] Mills was eventually awarded a lump sum of £16.5m, together with assets of £7.8m, which included the properties she owned at the time.[110] The total was £24.3 million, plus payments of £35,000 per annum, for a nanny and school costs for their daughter.[111] In his judgment, Justice Bennett described Mills as a "kindly person" who argued her case with a "steely, yet courteous, determination", but concluded that much of her evidence was, "not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid", and that overall she was a "less than impressive witness".[26] The divorce was granted on 12 May 2008, and the preliminary divorce decree was finalised six weeks later.[112][113] Mills pleaded with two High Court judges to keep the full judgment secret, saying that it could make her vulnerable to "crazed" fans of The Beatles.[114] She later considered trying to have the gagging order stopping her talking publicly about the case lifted, as the sections released were against her wishes, saying that it would "perhaps be better for the public to see everything".[115] Mills later vowed to continue her legal fight to get full transcripts of the divorce court case made publicly available.[116]

After the decision, Mills talked about McCartney: "I will never get over it. I will always love Paul. He is the father of my child, but I just have to move on and deal with it and there is nothing I can do", and went on to say: "I have never spoken badly about my husband. I never will - he is the father of my child."[117] Mills later threatened to release tapes of McCartney in therapy talking about problems with his late wife, portraying him as a drug and alcohol addict, and researching McCartney's assets to prove he has more than £400 million.[107][118] A High Court gagging clause preventing Mills talking about McCartney's family life could mean a prison sentence, but McCartney said: "There'll be no more nagging, no more chaos, no more Heather...bliss. I have peace at last."[107]

Activism

Mills campaigns against seals being clubbed to death

In 2005, Mills became a patron of the British animal rights organisation Viva!, and the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation, which are both run by Juliet Gellatley.[119] In 2006, Mills and Gellatley attended a debate on fur at the Oxford Union, where she presented a video depicting the skinning of a dog.[120] She posed with her own dog in an anti-fur advertisement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which read: "If you wouldn't wear your dog, please don't wear fur".[121]

In March 2006, Mills and McCartney travelled to Canada to bring attention to the country's annual seal hunt.[122] Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, they complained that the hunt was inhumane, and called on the Canadian government to put an end to it.[123] Their arrival on the floes sparked much attention in Newfoundland and Labrador, where 90 percent of the sealers live. Mills and McCartney protested against seals being clubbed to death, pierced with boat hooks and sometimes skinned alive.[123] Newfoundland and Labrador's Premier, Danny Williams, debated the issue with them on Larry King Live, the issue being that seals are no longer hunted that way, and have not been for a while.[124] Mills joined a Viva! film team at a pig farm in Somerset, in February 2007, to publicise the use of restrictive farrowing crates, which are used for sows who are suckling piglets.[125] A video of the investigation was made available on the Internet.[126] Mills' relationship with PETA ended in 2007, when McCartney's daughter, Mary, said she would not continue to take photographs for the organisation if Mills was involved with them.[127][128] As the McCartney family had been supporters of PETA for many years, a PETA representative told the New York Post: "Heather's exposé of the Chinese fur industry remains one of most popular videos on our site, but we don't have any imminent campaigns planned with her."[128][129]

Wearing a green t-shirt saying, "Vegan, you can't get greener",[130] Mills spoke in Hyde Park, London, on 19 November 2007, arguing in favour of veganism on the grounds that livestock create more carbon emissions than transport (although she drove a Mercedes four-wheel drive car to the press conference, keeping the engine running for part of the morning).[130] Mills said: "Eighty percent of global warming comes from livestock and deforestation. I'm not telling people to go vegan overnight. But if they stop drinking their cows' milk lattes, maybe this sort of thing won't have to happen."[131] She went on to say: "You have 25 other alternate milks in many health stores and supermarkets. It's kind of bizarre. Why don't we drink rat's milk or dog's milk or cat's milk? You know, there are many, many other options".[130] This led The Daily Telegraph, among others, to report the press conference under the headline, "Drink Rats' Milk, says Heather Mills".[132]

In 2008, an old video surfaced of Mills wearing a mink coat she had owned in 1989, but explained to reporters that she had bought it years before becoming involved in animal rights organisations or vegetarianism.[133] Although she had separated from McCartney, Mills said: "It's only since I met Paul [McCartney] that I really got to understand how vegetarianism not only benefits your health massively but also makes a huge difference to the planet, to animals, and to feeding the world".[134] In August 2008, she was honoured by the organisation FARM (Farm Animals Reform Movement) with the Celebrity Activist Award.[135] After her divorce, Mills pledged to give a "large portion" of her £24.3 million divorce settlement to Adopt-A-Minefield, but the charity has not received any of it currently.[136]

On 28 August 2009, at the Celebrity Catwalk event in Hollywood, Mills showed off her new "recycled clothes from charity shops" range, called Be@one. It has not been well-received by either critics[137] or the public.[138]

Media image and criticism

Mills' relationship with McCartney triggered considerable media interest,[139][140] but after her divorce, the attitude of the British media was hostile, as Mills was accused of embellishing her life story, being a former prostitute, a shoplifter, and of having married McCartney for his money.[15] Mills frequently accuses the press of misquoting her, and of using material out of context to give a negative impression of her, telling the Evening Standard that the claims that she had married McCartney for his money were more hurtful than losing her leg.[141]

Mills has been accused by several newspapers of having embellished her life story: journalist Heather Mills, then at The Observer, accused Mills of impersonating her for over a year in the late 1990s, showing people cuttings of articles the journalist had written,[142] which helped Mills secure a job presenting The General TV show, which was a BBC programme about Southampton General Hospital.[143] There were also doubts about Mills’ claim that she had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (because the Heather Mills Health Trust had given away thousands of prosthetic limbs to landmine victims) but the nomination can not be proven because the identities of all nominees are a secret for 50 years.[9]

Charles Stapely disputed Mills' statement that her mother had nearly lost a leg in a car crash, after Mills said, "her leg was only hanging on by a tiny flap of skin and flesh... miraculously the surgeons managed to insert a metal plate and reattach it".[18] Stapely said that Mills' mother had suffered a leg injury after a car crash, but recovered and was "a keen tennis player".[18]

Mills said that she had once been asked to stand for parliament by the three main political parties,[9] and had been offered a peerage in 2001 (to become Baroness Mills) by the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and a certain "Lord Macdonald". An ITV documentary (McCartney vs McCartney: The Ex Files) interviewed three Lord Macdonalds, but not one of them could remember ever meeting Mills. British journalist Jasper Gerard, to whom Mills made the claims, also says she told him that she had cancelled a meeting with Bill Clinton in case her endorsement affected a US election outcome.[144] Mills stated that she was once awarded the Outstanding Young Person of the Year award by the British Chambers of Commerce,[145] but did not challenge newspapers after they discovered there was no such award.[9]

In 2006, Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi billionaire businessman and Kerry Packer, the Australian media tycoon, were named in the News of the World as former clients of Mills from the time when she allegedly worked as an escort girl. Packer's son denied that his late father had been involved.[146] The newspaper provided an affidavit from escort girl Denise Hewitt (who was paid £50,000 for the story) who said she worked with Mills providing sexual services and that Mills boasted of earning up to £10,000 in a single night.[147] Mills often requested to work with two girls at a time "... to do a 'girlie scene'. By this I knew she meant lesbian sex" said Hewitt "I thought at the time that Heather may have been bisexual."[147] To substantiate its claims, the News of the World questioned Abdul Khoury, who was Khashoggi's personal secretary from 1977 to 2005. Khoury affirmed the veracity of reports that Mills "had sex with him [Khashoggi] on a number of occasions in return for money. Mr Khashoggi was always very pleased with Heather's performance. She was very athletic in bed."[147] The Daily Mail produced accounts of another escort girl, Petrina Montrose and from other friends confirming that Mills had worked with them as an escort girl on many occasions.[147] Montrose said that once "when all three of them were in the bedroom, Heather had ‘tried it on' with [escort girl] Joanna and suggested lesbian sex".[148] Through her lawyers, Mills denied ever having been an escort girl and said she would sue as soon as her divorce was concluded. This has not happened.[149]

In October 2006, Mills announced her intention to sue The Daily Mail, The Sun and the Evening Standard.[150][151] All the newspapers said that the stories "were obtained by proper methods and in accordance with good journalistic practice".[152] The Sun, which regularly refers to Mills as "Mucca"—a play on McCartney's nickname "Macca"—responded by asking her to "tick the boxes" on a series of allegations the newspaper had made, stating, "It is not clear what exactly she plans to sue us about". Underneath the open questions, The Sun listed six allegations about her, with a blank box beside each one. The words beside the boxes read: "Hooker, Liar, Porn Star, Fantasist, Trouble Maker, Shoplifter".[153]

The Sun's question box asking Mills to deny what the newspaper had reported

In December 2006, Mills told the BBC that she had received death threats, and on 17 December 2006, police stated that a "non-specific threat" had been made to her safety.[154] This led to more criticism that she was calling out the emergency services too often. In March 2007, Kevin Moore, Chief Superintendent of Sussex Police, said that Mills was running "the risk of being treated as the little boy who cried wolf",[155] and added, "We do have to respond to a disproportionate high volume of calls from Heather Mills McCartney because of the situations she finds herself in, and this is regrettable as it takes officers away from other policing matters". Mills responded that the police had told her to contact them whenever she was being harassed.[156][157]

During several interviews in October 2007, Mills accused the media of giving her "worse press than a paedophile or a murderer".[158] She also criticised the media over the treatment of Diana, Princess of Wales—who, according to Mills, was "chased and killed" by paparazzi—and of Kate McCann.[159] Immediately before giving these interviews, her PR adviser, Phil Hall, quit.[160] In 2008, a survey commissioned by Marketing magazine showed Mills as one of the top five most hated celebrity women, along with Amy Winehouse, Victoria Beckham and Kerry Katona.[161]

In December 2008, the Channel 4 television comedy series Star Stories broadcast a satirical mockumentary of Mills' life story from her point of view. In 2009, after petitioning the Press Complaints Commission in the UK about being lied about in the press, five British tabloids (The Sun, The Daily Express, News of the World, Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror) publicly apologised to Mills about printing false, hurtful or defamatory stories about her. Another tabloid (the Daily Mail) sent a private letter of apology. The stories in question were not those alleging prostitution, lying, or being a fantasist, but more recent untrue stories concerning her daughter, false allegations of a romantic relationship, false suggestions regarding cosmetic surgery, and false accounts of her spending.[162] On May 4, 2009, The Sun published a small paragraph saying that they have been asked to make clear that Mills "denies spending £10 million of her settlement; trying to sell her home to her ex-husband; masterminding a smear campaign against him; spending £1 million on a swimming pool, £0.5 million on staff wages and £6 million on properties as they had reported" and they regretted "the misunderstanding".[163] Mills has complained that over 4,400 abusive articles about her have been published.[164]

Criticism of press coverage

In 2002, Mills accepted damages of £50,000 plus costs from the Sunday Mirror, after a false report that the Charity Commission had investigated her about the money she raised for the Indian earthquake victims appeal in 2001.[165][166] The extent and nature of the British press coverage of Mills has been criticised, as in May 2003, when columnist Matt Seaton (The Guardian) wrote a piece declaring, "There is little that is edifying in the symbolic lynching of Heather [Mills]. The poisonous judgmentalism that drives it is in the worst tradition of small town gossip. It is prurient, spiteful, hypocritical, and we should cry 'shame' on it."[33] Publicist Mark Borkowski wrote in the Independent on Sunday, on 23 March 2008: "Not since the cult of Myra Hindley have we encountered so much vitriol aimed at one woman."[167] Feminist writer Natasha Walter has compared the coverage to that of Britney Spears.[74] Terence Blacker wrote that public figures who are young, female, pretty and fair-haired, are often subjected to public bullying which is explained as "intense media interest", such as Diana, Princess of Wales, Paula Yates, Ulrika Johnsson, and Mills.[164] Kira Cochrane, in The Guardian, said that "every misogynist epithet available" has been used against Mills. "She has somehow become the vessel through which it is acceptable for both pundits and the public to express their very worst feelings about women."[74] Joan Smith, writing in The Independent, said that newspaper "Bullies love a weakling"; quoting the Daily Mirror's front page headline: "Lady Liar", and The Sun newspaper writing "Pornocchio"[168] over Mills' face (in reference to Pinocchio's nose getting longer when he lied, and her past photographs).[169] Smith went on to say that Mills had "dreamt of becoming the wife of a famous man but did not realise that he had fantasies of his own, marrying an attractive younger woman when he hadn't got over the loss of his first wife. Mills behaved foolishly when the marriage failed but she does not deserve the treatment she has had in the mass-market press. It is merciless bullying of an unstable, vulnerable woman."[169] In 2009, Mills reported a bogus charity was setup to extract information about her marriage. News Corp owned by Rupert Murdoch is alleged to have setup the sting.[170] The British Tabloid Newspaper "The Mirror" ran a headline "Macca marriage to Heather was mistake of the decade" following an interview Paul McCartney gave to Q Magazine. Paul McCartney immediately moved to deny this statement and then went on to publicly print the original transcript to prove the Mirror article was false on his official website.[171]

Present life

Mills lives in Robertsbridge, Sussex,[172] and in an exclusive part of Hove, East Sussex.[173][174][175] She continues to campaign for amputees, in addition to promoting the distribution of prostheses around the world, and has been involved with the development of the Heather Mills McCartney Cosmesis,[176] which gives amputees in America the chance to wear a Dorset Orthopaedic cosmesis, without having to travel to the UK.[33][177] Mills is also vice-president of the Limbless Association.[178][179] In 2003, the Open University awarded her an honorary doctorate for her philanthropic work on behalf of amputees.[180] In 2004, she received a "Children in Need" award from the annual International Charity Gala in Düsseldorf, and in the same year, the University of California, Irvine gave her their 2004 Human Security Award, and created the Heather Mills McCartney Fellowship in Human Security to support graduate students conducting research on pressing human security issues.[181] She is a former Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Association Adopt-A-Minefield programme.[9][182][183]

Mills was one of the celebrity performers showcased during the US television series Dancing with the Stars in 2007.[184] She was eliminated from the show in the sixth week of competition on 24 April 2007, donating her entire fee (after taxes) for appearing on the show to Viva![185] On 1 December 2007, Neil Simpson published The Unsinkable Heather Mills: The Unauthorized Biography of the Great Pretender.[186][187] When McCartney planned a holiday with Beatrice at La Gazelle d'Or hotel in Morocco during April 2008, Mills faxed eight pages of instructions to the hotel on what her daughter should and cannot eat. She was insistent that Beatrice’s strict vegan diet should be adhered to, and was "driving the hotel staff mad, faxing both the head chef and manager instructions and recipe suggestions for Bea". McCartney was furious, as he had successfully brought up his children as vegetarians.[188] McCartney suggested taking his daughter, Beatrice, on a world tour in 2008, but Mills insisted on rules that would have to be followed: she would accompany her daughter for the 14 months in a private jet, and no swearing would be allowed by musicians or road crew in front of her daughter.[189][190] In June 2008, Mills was asked to talk at a New York party about the cruelty of puppy farms and to promote her book about animals, but was angry about the guests speaking over her speech, saying: "Listen up at the back. I haven’t been up for 24 hours and flew here from London to be ignored."[191] Mills's former publicist of four years, Michele Elyzabeth, decided to cease representing her on 25 July 2008.[192][193]

On 4 July 2009, Mills opened a vegan restaurant called VBites[194] at Hove Lagoon, Hove, Sussex on the site of the old Big Fish Cafe, which she is reported to have purchased for £140,000.[195] It has been well received by critics, receiving a five star rating,[196] with Mills quoted as saying that she intends it to be the first in a worldwide chain of vegan restaurants.[197] Whilst promoting the restaurant, Mills gave an interview to the BBC, stating that she'd been very proactive in the building-stages and, now that it was open, would give as much time to it as she could - working it around her charity work. When asked if life was easier following her divorce, she replied 'I'm not going to talk about that' [198].

On 21 December 2009 she was revealed as one of the contestants on the fifth series of Dancing on Ice[199] and was paired with Dancing on Ice regular and favourite Matt Evers. She has stated that she is taking part in the show in order to support the charities she frequently donates to, and also to show that disabled people can do more than people think.[200]

A subsequent campaign to get Mills removed from the show has began online, however, despite being the favourite to leave first, she was not voted off in the show and indeed, did not even end up in the bottom two.[201] Instead, swimmer Sharron Davies and singer Sinitta were in the bottom two, with Sinitta ultimately being voted off.

Mills has also claimed that she turned down an offer of £350,000 - the same figure given to participant Vinnie Jones - to appear on the final series of the UK's Celebrity Big Brother.[202]

On the 12th January 2010, her forty-second birthday, she was involved in a minor car accident following rehearsal for Dancing on Ice. She was not hurt but shaken up[203].

Notes

  1. ^ Eden, Richard. "Charity drops Heather Mills for a McCartney". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1541536/Charity-drops-Heather-Mills-for-a-McCartney.html. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  2. ^ a b "Heather Mills Profile". UGO Networks. http://www.celebritywonder.com/html/heathermills.html. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "A Single Step (extract)". msnbc. 2002-10-28. http://www.macca-central.com/macca-news/morenews.php?id=878. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  4. ^ "A Single Step". Warner Books. http://www.amazon.com/Single-Step-Heather-Mills-McCartney/dp/0446531650. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
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  6. ^ "Sir Paul McCartney And Heather Mills - Divorce Judgement". Zimbio. 2008-03-17. http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/-01miQGJLb0/Sir+Paul+McCartney+Heather+Mills+Divorce+Judgement/EbVdThJm5FQ/Fiona+Mills. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  7. ^ a b "Heather backs school campaign". BBC. 2003-10-01. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/wear/3154150.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  8. ^ a b Clennell, Andrew (2003-05-10). "Heather Mills faces legal action over paedophile claims". The Independent. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20030510/ai_n12684231. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
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References

  • Mills, Heather (with ghostwriter Pamela Cockerill) (2002). A Single Step. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-53165-0. 
  • Mills, Heather (with co-writer Ben Noakes) (2006). Life Balance: The Essential Keys to a Lifetime of Well Being. Michael Joseph Ltd. ISBN 0-7181-4667-0. 

External links








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