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Judge says Mills claim was `exorbitant'

Heather Mills was a less than candid court witness whose $250 million divorce claim was exorbitant, a judge said in his ruling on her divorce from Paul McCartney. The judgment by Hugh Bennett was released Tuesday, after a court rejected Mills’ attempt to block publication.

On Monday, Bennett awarded Mills a $48.6 million divorce settlement after her four-year marriage to the former Beatle. Mills had sought almost $250 million, while McCartney had offered $31.6 million, including Mills’ own assets.

In his ruling, the judge said Mills’ claim “is and was unreasonable, indeed exorbitant.”

He also said Mills’ evidence was “not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid. Overall she was a less than impressive witness.”

McCartney’s lawyers didn’t object to publication, but Mills claimed details in the ruling could compromise the security of her 4-year-old daughter Beatrice.

“Miss Mills believes her daughter will be put in real danger. It is most disturbing,” said lawyer David Rosen, who represented Mills in court. She did not attend the hearing.

Mills, 40, walked away from court with a settlement worth about $34,000 for every day of her marriage to the 65-year-old McCartney. But it was only a fifth of what she had sought and a fraction of McCartney’s $800 million fortune.

Mills declared that she was “very, very, very pleased.”

The settlement included a lump sum of $33 million, plus the assets Mills currently holds worth $15.6 million.

Some legal experts were surprised the former model did not get more.

“In the scheme of things, it’s quite surprisingly low,” said Patricia Hollings, a divorce specialist with London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent. “It is only offering her about 6 percent of his assets. In terms of high-wealth cases it’s very low.”

McCartney left after the ruling without comment. But Mills emerged from the three-hour private hearing for an impromptu news conference on the courthouse steps – railing against McCartney’s lawyer and accusing McCartney of underestimating his wealth.

“All of you that have researched know that it was always going to be a figure between 20 and 30 million” pounds, said a visibly agitated Mills. “Paul was offering a lot less than that. … So we’re very, very, very pleased.”

Mills criticized McCartney’s attorney Fiona Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana.

“She has called me many, many names before even meeting me when I was in a wheelchair,” said Mills, whose own legal team, in an ironic twist, was led by Princess Diana’s divorce lawyer until she fired them in November.

Shackleton emerged from court Monday with a wet head, reportedly from a glass of water that Mills had dumped on her. Mills told reporters Shackleton had been “baptized in court.” McCartney’s representatives declined to comment.

McCartney also was ordered to pay $70,000 a year for Beatrice, and to pay for her nanny and school fees.

Mills said that was a paltry amount. “She’s obviously meant to travel B class while her father travels A class,” she said.

The settlement doesn’t rank with the most expensive celebrity divorces. Basketball star Michael Jordan and singer-songwriter Neil Diamond both had to pay out about $150 million to settle their divorces, according to Forbes magazine.

British divorce settlements are generally lower than those in the U.S. But Mills’ settlement is only about half of the biggest contested divorce settlement in British history – the 48 million pounds (about $90 million at the time) that insurance tycoon John Charman was ordered to pay his ex-wife in 2006.

Mills and McCartney went to court last month to decide on her share of his fortune, which had been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion. However, the judge found that McCartney’s total worth was about $800 million.

Now that the case is over, Mills implored the media to just let it be.

“And I really hope now that me and my daughter can have a life and not be followed every single day and that is why I’ve come out, to give it closure,” she said.

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