Celebrity divorce: Team Macca vs Team Mills

As Sir Paul McCartney begins legal proceedings to end his marriage, Terry Kirby looks at who will be on whose side in what is expected to be an extremely expensive break-up
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Macca's lawyer


While Diana, Princess of Wales, was able to negotiate a £17m slice of the fortune of the Prince of Wales in her divorce settlement, she failed to get the one thing she had set her heart on: the title of Her Royal Highness, the big "HRH". The fact she was unable to seize this prize was almost certainly due to the diligence of the Prince's solicitor, Fiona Shackleton. In her negotiations with Anthony Julius, representing the Princess, Shackleton knew that in such cases, the real battle was likely to be about something other than mere money. Not for nothing is she known the Steel Magnolia.

Now, once again, there is an enticing legal dual in prospect between the same adversaries. This time, Shackleton is representing a different type of royalty - Sir Paul McCartney, who, with a fortune of £825m, is one of the few men almost as rich as the Prince of Wales, while Julius has been chosen deliberately by Lady McCartney, presumably in the hope of a similar kind of deal.

This fight will be conducted by courteous and confidential letters, faxes and e-mails and in small meetings behind closed doors. And, if negotiations fail and the matter reaches court - which Sir Paul will be desperate to avoid - the big guns of the divorce barristers will be called in. Nicholas Mostyn QC, who recently helped Karen Parlour, wife of former England and Arsenal footballer Ray Parlour win a record half of her husband's earnings, is said to have been earmarked for the brief.

In contrast to the bookish, but relaxed and worldly Julius, Shackleton did not show early promise. Educated at Benenden and Exeter University, where she studied law and got a third, she spent time cooking for executive boardrooms before deciding to capitalise on her degree and take up law full time in the early Eighties. She joined Farrer & Co, the royal solicitors, where she eventually became a partner and the firm's leading family lawyers. The Prince of Wales came to her after her success in handling the divorce of his younger brother, the Duke of York, from Sarah Ferguson. Now 50, and married with two children, Ms Shackleton, works for the leading lawyers Payne Hicks Beach.

She is reputed to have fallen out of royal favour in the aftermath of the Paul Burrell affair and the suggestions of a cover up over allegations of a homosexual rape within the royal household. However, in the last New Year honours she was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order and remains solicitor for the Princes William and Harry.

Ms Shackleton is quoted as saying: "I like sticking up for people, making sure they are not taken advantage of. It helps to have a rod of steel through your back and lots of charm."

Macca's PR people


As pop royalty, Sir Paul can afford the best people in the business. For many years, Geoff Baker, a former journalist who became Sir Paul's friend, handled his PR without any apparent problems. After the marriage to Lady McCartney, Baker and Sir Paul suddenly parted company amid unsubstantiated rumours that his boss's new spouse had taken exception to him; the official reason was a spat over a theoretically low-profile visit Sir Paul made to see the stunt performer David Blaine in his isolation tank on the South Bank, at which Baker is said to have annoyed his boss by alerting photographers to his presence. Baker, however, is known not to harbour any grudges against Sir Paul.

Sir Paul then turned to Alan Edwards, who runs The Outside Organisation and who has been fielding media calls on the current divorce negotiations. There is not much that is likely to trouble Edwards: the Spice Girls and All Saints have been among his past clients, while current artists include David Bowie and Jamie Oliver.

Macca's friends and family

John Eastman, his brother-in-law, is more than a manager, adviser or personal lawyer for Sir Paul; he is all three and a friend as well. "Eastman is the man who Paul will call late at night for a talk about these matters," said an associate of the former Beatle. "He's been around for a long time and he was Linda's brother."

Eastman is a heavyweight and unlikely to be fazed by anything Lady McCartney can do: an experienced US lawyer with his family firm for more than four decades, he also runs MPL, the McCartney company that controls rights to all Buddy Holly songs.

Sir Paul also turns to his older daughters - Stella, the clothes designer, and Mary, a photographer. Rumours have abounded that they were unhappy about their father's second wife and her influence on him. Sir Paul doesn't have many close male friends. "He was always mainly a family man," said the associate. However, he counts several colleagues from his long years in the music business as friends: his fellow Liverpudlian Elvis Costello and the Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour are among them. There is even his old friend Richard Starkey known to his fellow Beatles as Richie, never Ringo.

Mills' lawyer


Anthony Julius always seemed set for a glittering legal career. As a partner with the leading London law firm, Mishcon de Reya, he was an expert in high-profile libel and media cases, having represented Stephen Fry, Robert Maxwell and Jerry Hall among others.

The first member of his Orthodox Jewish family to go to university - he got a first in English at Cambridge - he was schooled in the classics, but remains fully in tune with popular culture and is said to be a Quentin Tarantino fan. Mr Julius is said to be plain speaking and owlish, but highly erudite, having read Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur at the age of eight, and written books himself on T S Eliot, modern art and anti-Semitism. Fry, whom he represented after he walked out of the West End production of Cell Mates, once famously referred to him as "probably the most intelligent man I have ever met".

None of these qualities are believed to be behind Lady McCartney's decision to employ Mr Julius in the forthcoming divorce settlement with Sir Paul. It was the fact that Sir Paul had himself hired Fiona Shackleton, the formidable divorce specialist who represented the Prince of Wales in his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales. The Princess had hired Mr Julius. One associate of the McCartneys said: "It was just so obvious that Heather would hire Anthony Julius once Paul had asked Shackleton to represent him. Heather sees herself as a sort of Lady Diana figure and, of course, she couldn't resist it."

The Princess of Wales wanted Julius to handle her case after he represented her against the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror, when they published pictures of her in the gym. He helped her gain a £17m settlement; in return he got a present of an Asprey's silver blotter, inscribed: "To Anthony, thank you for giving me my wings, love Diana."

Now 50, he is married, for the second time, to the journalist Dina Rabinovitch. A senior partner, he is reputed to charge up to £500 an hour, but still tends to handle big libel cases, rather than divorce.

Lady McCartney will be seeking to get a substantial share of the Macca millions - an estimated £825m. One associate of her husband said: "Heather knows that whatever the final figure is, she will be set up for life. I think she wants her day in court and all the headlines that go with that, because she's a fame digger, rather than a gold digger."

Mills' PR people


For some years now, Anya Noakes has represented Lady McCartney, fielding inquiries over everything from her landmines campaign to chat show appearances. Ms Noakes went freelance in 1995, having worked in the film and television business. She has also run the media operation at the London Film Festival and the Edinburgh Television Festival.

Phil Hall, a former editor of the News of the World, who now runs his own public relations company, is handling news stories relating to the divorce. Mr Hall, 50, worked at The People, the Sunday Express and was editor-in-chief of Hello! magazine. He also now represents Hello! magazine - so the headline "Lady McCartney, Her Divorce Behind Her, Welcomes Hello! Readers To Her Lovely New Home," seems only a matter of time.

With his help Lady McCartney has ensured several favourable "snatched photo opportunities", including her attendance at a Madonna concert last weekend and others when she went to drop off her daughter, Bea, and found herself locked out.

Mills' friends and family

Fiona Mills, the sister of Heather Mills, is one of her closest companions, having returned from living in Greece at the time of her sister's marriage to Sir Paul to become her "manager". On Lady McCartney's website, she is the author of several testimonals on the "Fact and Fiction" page, attempting to debunk some of the claims have been levelled against her sister, involving suggestions that she is a fantasist, about her past career as a glamour model and over previous relationships. In the section, entitled "A Message from Fiona", she outlines her "anger and disgust" at some of the accusations about her sister.

Apart from a wide circle of girlfriends, according to yesterday's Daily Mirror, a recent close companion of Lady McCartney has been Mark Payne, the American make-up artist to the stars, who accompanied her to the Madonna concert last weekend and has been staying at her beachfront home in Hove. Another larger than life friend is said to be the former boxer, dandy and reality television contestant Chris Eubank.

Lady McCartney also relies upon the support of a large number of the charities for which she has worked - including those involved with animals, campaigning against minefields, and working with amputees. Many of these charities have posted messages of support on her website.