- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON

Paul McCartney’s estranged wife, Heather Mills, insisted Thursday that she still loves the former Beatle but said securing a divorce deal from him was like “getting blood out of a stone.”

Miss Mills, who is fighting for a share of the singer-songwriter’s estimated $1.6 billion fortune, also claims that “powerful” forces were out to smear her name as a gold digger trying to cash in on their five-year marriage.

Breaking her silence over her feelings about the split, Miss Mills, 39, said she would never recover from her relationship with the 64-year-old rock legend.

“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,” she told BBC News 24 television.

“I have never spoken badly about my husband. I never will — he is the father of my child,” she said.

However, Miss Mills — who tomorrow begins her stint as one of the celebrities on the season premiere of ABC’s reality hit “Dancing With the Stars” — also lamented in a separate interview about the difficulty of getting a divorce deal from her estranged husband.

The couple appeared in a London court earlier this month for a preliminary hearing on their divorce.

Asked by Sky News television how long the divorce could take, she replied: “I’ve got no idea. It’s like getting blood from a stone. It could take a year. I’ve got no idea.

“It’s not down to me; it’s all down to me hubby,” she added.

Miss Mills and Mr. McCartney announced the end of their four-year marriage in May, but the divorce has turned into an acrimonious affair played out in the media, with leaked divorce papers in November claiming that Mr. McCartney mistreated Miss Mills, his second wife.

One press report last month said Mr. McCartney is planning to offer a $49 million settlement to end the bitter divorce battle.

Miss Mills also accused the media of mistreating her, claiming that at one stage she was pushed around by photographers trying to get a “bum and belly shot” when she was seven months pregnant — and that sinister forces had colored the media’s attitude toward her.

“It’s a big powerful group of people behind this whole campaign against me,” she said, adding that all she wanted was balanced coverage, “not just the one-sided, ‘let’s crucify and vilify Heather’ ” reporting.

But she insisted, “I won’t be bruised and beaten down. I won’t allow this to happen.

“It’s very hard. It’s very difficult, but I will get through,” she added.

Miss Mills also has enlisted the help of law enforcement to keep the media at bay, but British police have warned her about using the emergency phone number 999 too often.

According to Reuters news agency, Chief Superintendent Kevin Moore of Brighton and Hove Police — on the southern English coast where Miss Mills spends much of her time — said there is a risk that officers may take her calls less seriously if she contacts them too often.

“We are having to spend a disproportionate amount of time on one particular person,” he said.

“We are duty bound to respond, but clearly people who make lots of calls to the police run the risk of being treated as the little boy who cried wolf. Officers who have attended previously to find there have been no grounds might not take any claims seriously, and that’s the danger we face.”

A spokeswoman for Chief Superintendent Moore did not say how many emergency calls Miss Mills had made to police but said some had not warranted any action. She added that police advised Miss Mills against dialing the 999 number and suggested that she keep a log of press harassments.

Miss Mills’ spokesman Phil Hall said Miss Mills had called police on several occasions about paparazzi who followed her along the street, “often on motorbikes and in a very dangerous fashion.” He also said Miss Mills’ representatives had spoken to Chief Superintendent Moore on Thursday.

“He assures us he is in no way disappointed with the level of calls from Miss Mills,” Mr. Hall said.

Meanwhile, Miss Mills — who insists she is not a publicity seeker for her own sake — has given a series of interviews in recent days to publicize her participation in “Dancing With the Stars” and her work for animal charities, which includes her latest campaign against pig-farming practices.

Like Mr. McCartney, Miss Mills is passionate about animal rights, and she was forced earlier this week to defend herself after pictures of her wearing a fur coat surfaced in the British press.

On Thursday, she emphasized that the picture in question was taken 18 years ago — before she became involved in animal rights issues. Miss Mills also said the coat was one of three cherished objects left to her by her late mother and dismissed a comparison with supermodel Naomi Campbell, who was widely criticized a few years ago after advertising fur despite having previously been involved in the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign.

“Eighteen years ago, I wore fur a couple of times like loads of people, then I got educated on what was right, not eating animals. … I’ve never said, ‘Don’t wear fur’ and gone back to wearing fur,” Miss Mills said.


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