McCartney 'buys Linda tapes for £200,000'

Recordings of first wife speaking of marriage allegedly sold
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The Independent Online

The lurid and public divorce of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills-McCartney took a further twist last night, with reports that the musician has paid £200,000 for a number of audio tapes on which his first wife Linda allegedly complains about her marriage.

The tapes were made by the literary agent Paul Cox in 1989 when he worked on a vegetarian cook book with the former Beatle's first wife, who died of cancer in 1998. Mr Cox told The Mail on Sunday last week that on the tapes Linda, who was married to Sir Paul for 29 years, complained she was unhappy in her marriage.

Sir Paul's second wife, Heather Mills-McCartney, was said to be desperate to obtain the tapes in the hope that they would back up allegations in her divorce petition. The claims have been furiously denied by Sir Paul, who on Friday received a standing ovation for the debut of his latest work, Ecce Cor Meum, at the Royal Albert Hall.

The classical piece was originally inspired by Linda, but not dedicated to her because by the time he finished it he had remarried and felt "it wasn't really appropriate".

In an interview on the Today programme broadcast yesterday, Sir Paul said: "There are certain things in life that are personal and I think a relationship with a partner is intensely personal, and I prefer to keep it that way.

"When you are going through difficulties, I think the thing to do for the sake of all the people concerned is to keep a certain dignity and remember that it is a private affair, and that way you will probably get through it better."

The Mail on Sunday reports that Sir Paul met Mr Cox in a central London restaurant on Wednesday morning. According to the paper, diners also overheard Sir Paul discuss the divorce, in which he revealed his frustration and anger. He reportedly spoke frankly about the divorce and his estranged wife.

Last week, Sir Paul's lawyers insisted that Mr Cox sign an agreement that he would not make the contents of the tapes public. This does not, however, prevent him from speaking about them.

They were recorded at the McCartneys' family home in Peasmarsh, East Sussex, while Linda and Mr Cox collaborated on the book Home Cooking. Linda is said to have poured her heart out to Mr Cox.

Heather Mills-McCartney was said last week to be desperate to get hold of the tapes to back up her allegations against Sir Paul. The judge in the case will be able to order the 20 hours of tapes to be played.

A friend is reported to have said: "She fears that if Paul buys the only copies, and they are destroyed or kept secret, her case will be seriously weakened. She is desperate for a guarantee that the tapes are not taken out of the equation."