Judge to decide on McCartney divorce deal

Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:52am EST
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By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Pop icon Paul McCartney and ex-model Heather Mills failed to agree on a divorce settlement on Monday after six days in court, leaving the judge to decide how much of the former Beatle's fortune Mills should receive.

Judge Hugh Bennett will make his decision at a later date, probably in about a month, in a judgment that could set an important legal precedent for future short-lived marriages of the super-rich.

McCartney's fortune is estimated at 825 million pounds ($1.6 billion), and judgments involving this sort of wealth are usually given in public to give guidance to divorce lawyers.

But the hearings in the McCartney-Mills case have taken place behind closed doors and it is not clear whether the judge's decision will be made public.

Mills, 40, whose marriage to the 65-year-old McCartney lasted less than four years, sacked her lawyers and represented herself in the high court against McCartney, who was represented by big-money divorce lawyer Nicholas Mostyn.

Legal experts believe Mills is asking for 50 million pounds but that McCartney, one of the founders of the Beatles, is offering less than half that sum.

McCartney married Mills in 2002, four years after his first wife Linda died of breast cancer. Their daughter, Beatrice, is four.

If either side disputes the judge's decision, the case can go to the Court of Appeal and even on to the House of Lords, the highest court in the land.

But the hearings would then be in open court, stripping the two participants of the privacy they have enjoyed in the high court, where even the windows were covered to foil prying eyes and camera lenses.

(Writing by Jeremy Lovell, Editing by Tim Pearce)

<p>Sir Paul McCartney leaves the High Court in London February 15, 2008. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>