Leaked documents traced to newsagent's fax machine

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The Independent Online

Attempts to unravel the secret source behind the leaked McCartney divorce documents led yesterday to a small newsagent and talk of a mysterious brunette.

The increasingly bitter separation hit the headlines again when legal papers containing a series of allegations made by Sir Paul's wife, Heather, arrived at the Press Association office in Howden, east Yorkshire, just after 1.30pm last Tuesday.

The document, apparently prepared by solicitors Mishcon de Reya in answer to the former Beatle's divorce petition, contained allegations Sir Paul mistreated his wife during the couple's four-year marriage. Details of the allegations were published in the Daily Mail, which also received the document.

Unable to authenticate the document and concerned about legal matters, PA did not run the story but attempted to track down its anonymous source.

While the fax offered no clue as to who had sent it, an examination of incoming calls led them to believe it most probably came from a newsagent's shop, Drury News, on Drury Lane in central London.

The agency said it was impossible to be certain but a call was received from the small shop, which sells newspapers, sweets, snacks and cards, and offers photocopying and fax services, at the relevant time.

Its owner, Peter Mehta, who has run the business near Covent Garden for 15 years, remembers a woman - who he described as aged between 35 and 45, about 5ft 6in tall and brunette - coming in to send a fax last Tuesday afternoon. "I mostly use the fax for my own purposes but people can use it," he said. "I remember someone coming in, a woman. I think she might have been from the US or Canada - her accent was definitely different.

"When she came in, she was very good at the fax. I put the first page through and then she did the rest. We checked the fax number and she sent it."

Mr Mehta said he had not seen the document. "Most people use their offices to send faxes, so it is quite unusual," he said.

"But I don't watch over them when they do. I let people get on with what they are doing and then they pay me at the end."