Judge ends McCartney marriage

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The Independent Online

The ill-fated marriage of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills was ended today by the same judge who awarded the former model £24.3m as a divorce settlement.

Mr Justice Bennett pronounced a decree nisi at the High Court on the grounds that the pair had been separated for two years.

There was a brief private hearing before he granted Miss Mills her decree when Sir Paul's legal team of Nicholas Mostyn QC and solicitor Fiona Shackleton addressed the judge. The lawyers declined to comment when they left court.

Neither Sir Paul nor Miss Mills, who was not represented at the private hearing, were in court.

The brief hearing was in contrast to the hullabaloo surrounding the couple's bitter fight for a divorce settlement earlier this year.

Their battle over money ended on 17 March with Miss Mills receiving £24.3m from Sir Paul, whose fortune was put by the judge at £450m.

The following day the judge released full details of his ruling, despite a last-ditch attempt by Miss Mills to stop its publication.

The former Beatle's wife was criticised in the judgment for giving "inconsistent and inaccurate" evidence.

Mr Justice Bennett said she had conducted her own defence "with courteous, yet steely determination" after earlier sacking her own lawyers.

But he concluded: "Overall she was a less than impressive witness."

In contrast, the judge praised Sir Paul for giving balanced evidence during the six-day hearing.

"He expressed himself moderately, though at times with justifiable irritation, if not anger," the judge said. "He was consistent, accurate and honest."

Sir Paul, 65, married former model and charity campaigner Miss Mills, 40, in 2002, four years after his first wife, Linda, died of breast cancer.

Miss Mills and Sir Paul separated four years later. They have a daughter, Beatrice, aged four.