McCartney Gets in Shoving Match in London

By | September 19, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Paul McCartney was involved in a scuffle Friday when a photographer tried to take his picture near the site of illusionist David Blaine’s latest stunt.

McCartney spokesman Geoff Baker said the former Beatle fired him when he learned that Baker had informed the photographer that McCartney would be visiting the site on the River Thames. Blaine is trying to live there without food for 44 days while suspended from a crane in a plastic box.

Baker later said he’d been reinstated, and described reports of a “fracas” as exaggerated.

London’s Metropolitan Police, however, said they were investigating two counter-allegations of common assault following a dispute near Blaine’s stunt between a photographer and a group of friends early Friday morning. The police didn’t name anyone involved in the incident.

Baker issued a statement describing how he, McCartney and friends of the 61-year-old musician went to see Blaine after dining in central London’s Soho district on Thursday evening.

“One of the lads tipped off the press, who were watching a man in a sleeping bag in a box, that Paul was passing,” the statement said. “Paul then continued to joke by telling his mate, who is his publicist, that he was fired.

“Paul then got into a car and went home. Reports that this was a fracas or anything other than a group of friends on a night out are heavily exaggerated.”

Baker has said earlier that McCartney was “incandescent” when a photographer tried to take his picture.

“Paul didn’t want to be photographed and two of his mates said he didn’t want any photography,” said Baker, who has been McCartney’s spokesmen for many years. “There was pushing and shoving, but there were certainly no punches thrown.

“Then Paul got cross with me and told me I was fired. He was incandescent.”

The Evening Standard newspaper said its photographer, Kevin Wheal, claimed he was hit after trying to take McCartney’s picture. The paper said the star’s friends told police they were assaulted during the incident.

The stunt by Blaine, an American magician, has attracted large crowds of onlookers, and sometimes hecklers.

Since he entered the box Sept. 5, Blaine has been jeered, pelted with eggs, taunted with food and awakened by drummers. This week, police arrested a man who allegedly tried to cut off the magician’s water supply.

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