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Heather Mills wins libel battle

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
Heather Mills with Sir Paul McCartney. Newspaper claims were "distressing"  

LONDON, England -- The wife of ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has accepted 50,000 ($78,000) libel damages from a British tabloid after it wrongly gave the impression she had committed fraud over aid to victims of an Indian earthquake.

The newspaper, which was also agreed to pay costs, had suggested Heather Mills had distributed only 25,000 of the 250,000 she was said to have raised for those caught up in the Gujarat quake in January 2001.

In fact, she had only raised 68,000, all of which was handed over to aid agencies.

The paper also claimed that Mills, 34, was being investigated in connection with the case.

Mills, who was not in court to hear the agreed statement on Thursday, was described by her lawyer to have felt considerable distress and embarrassment at the time the article was published in the Sunday Mirror in May.

Mills and McCartney were on holiday in India at the time of the quake and the former model returned to the region to help relief workers. She arranged with Hello! magazine for a photographer to accompany her.

The society magazine agreed to pay 50,000 for the use of the photographs which, at her suggestion, was donated to charity.

The other 18,000 came from public donations through a joint charity appeal and was accounted for.

Mills, who lost a leg in a road accident in 1993 and who is closely associated with the charity Adopt-A-Minefield (UK), had argued through her lawyer that the article had left the reader with the impression that there were reasonable grounds to suspect she had been guilty of dishonesty or a serious lack of proper accounting.

There was also no truth in the suggestion that she was being investigated by the Charity Commission for any alleged failure to register the money raised.

Her counsel, Thomas Shields QC, was quoted by the Press Association as telling the High Court in London that the "highly damaging and wounding" allegations in the article were "wholly without foundation."

Publicist Anya Noakes said later: "Heather Mills is pleased that the Sunday Mirror has recognised that the allegations were unfounded and that her reputation has been vindicated."

All of the damages money has been donated to Mills' anti-landmines charity. She married Sir Paul earlier this year.




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