PCC rejects Heather Mills complaint

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A complaint by Heather Mills that claims that Piers Morgan had introduced her to ex-husband Sir Paul McCartney were inaccurate has been rejected by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

The Press watchdog also found that a description of Mills in the Mail on Sunday as being the writer of "nothing but bleating letters of complaint to newspapers and divorce lawyers" did not breach editors' rules.

Ms Mills complained that the article published on March 7 and headlined: "The 100 British celebrities who really matter," was inaccurate and therefore breached Clause 1 of the Editors' Code of Practice.

The Mail on Sunday's "top 100" list was compiled by Britain's Got Talent judge Morgan, with a rundown of each person featured.

Mills appeared at number 100 - and Morgan described his "eternal shame" at having "introduced" the pair at a charity bash.

Former Dancing on Ice contestant Mills said that this claim, which had been made on numerous occasions over the years, was incorrect.

She stated Sir Paul had seen his future wife speak at the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards and had contacted her afterwards and they had not met during the event itself, let alone been physically introduced by Morgan.

Mills also said the piece was inaccurate in saying that she was the writer of "nothing but bleating letters of complaint to newspapers and divorce lawyers" which Morgan felt contrasted to Sir Paul - "the brilliantly talented writer of Yesterday and Hey Jude".

She pointed out that she had in fact "written at least three books and is currently working on another".

The newspaper said that in 1999, former Daily Mirror editor Morgan had invited Mills and Sir Paul to the Pride of Britain Awards.

During the event, at which Mills made a speech, Sir Paul and Morgan were seated next to one another.

Morgan told Sir Paul all about Mills and why he had invited her to the awards.

Morgan's recollection was that he had physically introduced the pair to one another as guests mingled after the ceremony - and at Morgan's specific suggestion, Sir Paul called Mills after the event and offered to make a substantial donation to her charity.

The couple began dating soon afterwards and it could not be doubted that Mr Morgan was the conduit for their getting together, the newspaper said.

The Commission, which decided not to uphold Mills's complaint, said it was not in a position to reconcile Mills's and Morgan's conflicting recollections.

It noted that no complaint had been made in the past, despite Morgan having made the claim on several occasions.

The PCC found: "However, it was not in dispute that it was at an event organised by Mr Morgan's newspaper that Sir Paul had seen Ms Mills for the first time, that he contacted her shortly afterwards (apparently at Mr Morgan's suggestion) and that he and Ms Mills subsequently began dating.

"Given that Mr Morgan had invited both guests to the event, the Commission did not consider that it was misleading to suggest that he had effectively been the means to their introduction."

The PCC said that regarding Mills's "bleating letters" complaint, the Commission acknowledged that Mills had written a number of books.

It continued: "However, in the context of a comment piece, the Commission considered that readers would generally have recognised that Mr Morgan was making a rhetorical point about the relative merits or memorability (in his personal view) of Sir Paul McCartney's written work and Ms Mills's written work.

"There was no breach of the Editors' Code in relation to this part of the complaint either."