Heather Mills: The H-files

Heather Mills is increasingly being seen as a victim of a vicious game of one-upmanship between redtops
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First there were the "hardcore porn" shots. Then came the "lurid" allegations of her pre-Beatle-wife life as an escort for rich Arabs. Now it is clearly open season to make the ultimate dirt stick to Heather Mills.

To the outside world it looks like mud-slinging between the rival camps in the countdown to divorce. But the reality is more a case of tabloid score-settling, with Heather simply a pawn in a game of one-upmanship.

The Sun's attacks continued yesterday when the paper reproduced further soft porn magazine covers from the US and Australia featuring the ex-glamour model. But the paper's attempt to discredit her seems to be driven by the editor Rebekah Wade's long-standing dislike of Heather, and the close relationship she has built up with the Daily Mirror over the years. It was at the Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards that Paul and Heather were first introduced.

A News International insider said: "The Mirror was being very sympathetic towards her because they thought they were going to get a Heather Mills interview. Rebekah has never liked her, and she said let's nail her. There is a misplaced theory that this is being co-ordinated by Macca's people, but that's not the case."

By a stroke of good fortune it is understood a German soft porn book under the guise of a sex manual was bought on eBay and offered to The Sun, just as the paper was going all out to discredit her. Reproducing the photos a fortnight ago, The Sun placed a shot on its front page with the headline "Lady Macca hardcore porn shame". The pictures did not appear to be quite as "hardcore" as claimed. The paper virtually admitted as much when, three days into its campaign, it claimed Heather had sex with her modelling partner after the shoot - a tacit admission they did not do so on camera.

Last weekend's News of the World claimed Heather had been paid to sleep with wealthy Arab businessmen. She has threatened to sue over the story. But the allegations were not as fresh as they seemed. The newspaper has had the tale in its vaults for several years, seemingly unwilling to print while she was with Paul.

Prior to meeting Paul, Heather had raised money for prosthetic limbs and campaigned against the use of landmines, a cause which Paul adopted. A friend of Paul's said: "I think everyone's gone a bit too far. Whatever people think about her, she has done great things and she has used her position to raise awareness."

Another associate of Paul's said: "He is arguably the world's most famous musician and he is seen to have married a porn star. But you have to feel sorry for the poor woman. She is now seen as someone who has upset a national treasure."