Sir Paul offers £40m for Heather's silence

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The Independent Online

Sir Paul McCartney has offered his wife Heather a £40m divorce deal in return for her agreement not to talk publicly about their relationship.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sir Paul will pay out the money over 20 years in return for a pledge from Ms Mills to remain silent over the collapse of their four-year marriage.

The estranged couple discussed the proposed settlement at a meeting in a log cabin in the woods at his Peasmarsh estate in East Sussex, according to the News of the World. The tabloid quoted a friend of the couple, who said that they were close to agreement on the deal.

"They are thrashing out a deal which would amount to between £30m and £40m over 20 years. Heather must reveal nothing about their personal lives ... no books, no TV specials. She has one hell of a story and Paul wants a settlement to make sure it never comes out," the source said.

Any breach of the conditions would allow Sir Paul to stop the payments, the friend said. "Basically he has control of Heather for the rest of his life."

The couple met in 1999 and married in 2002. Their daughter Beatrice was born the following year, but they announced their separation in May, blaming media attention for the collapse of their relationship.

Following the split, the two sides enlisted high-profile lawyers in preparation for what was expected to be a long and bitter divorce.

Last night the source said that although there was no chance of a reconciliation, Sir Paul and Ms Mills have decided to co-operate for the sake of their daughter. "His anger is dying down. He doesn't hate her. In fact, he quite likes her ... He also realises she's the mother of his daughter ... and she's the woman who he once fell madly in love with."