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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 15:56 GMT
Media circus follows McCartneys

By Torin Douglas
Media correspondent, BBC News

Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney was unable to avoid photographers

On the morning after the Baftas, dozens of photographers, camera crews and journalists are thronging outside London's Royal Court of Justice.

They're hoping for a glimpse of the stars of the moment, but this time there is no red carpet, and the celebrities are doing their best to avoid any attention.

The world's media are out in force at this imposing building on The Strand for a glimpse of Sir Paul McCartney and his estranged wife Heather Mills, heading for their divorce hearing.

This large building has several entrances and the photographers and crews are trying to cover all the bases.

Two news helicopters are hovering, drowning out several mobile phone conversations. Satellite trucks, TV editing vans and radio cars are assembled over the road.

How does this rate on the scale of media scrums? Smaller than last night's film awards, according to one observer, but "bigger than Burrell" says another - referring to Paul Burrell's recent appearance at the Diana inquest.

Lingering journalists

Smaller too than the day Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones came to plead their case for damages in a privacy action against Hello! magazine over unauthorised pictures of their wedding.

Heather Mills
Heather Mills stepped out of court during a brief recess

That truly was a media circus - The Sun even hired a double-decker bus to proclaim the fact, with clowns and Page Three girls.

It turns out that Heather Mills has chosen to use the same entrance as the Douglases.

An hour before the case is due to start, a black vehicle with darkened windows drives up to the double gates, but not until it is safely in the courtyard and out of the immediate range of the cameras does the former model emerge.

Only then are we, the media, sure it's her and by then, the photographers' ladders and long lenses may not be enough to secure a decent picture.

Half an hour later, we hear reports that Sir Paul has left home and is on his way. Which entrance will he choose? Not the one we're at, it turns out, but he's spotted walking in through a side entrance.

Inside the building, directly outside Court 34, it's much quieter, but there are plenty of other journalists lingering to get a closer glimpse of the two parties.

There's no shortage of legal experts happy to give their analysis for the cameras and keep the 24-hour news machine ticking over

Heather is already in the court, behind signs saying 'Private. No admittance'. Then Sir Paul arrives, in a blue pinstriped suit, saying "good morning" as he goes inside.

And so we wait. The hearing is being held behind closed doors, away from the gaze of the public and the media.

New information is non-existent, but outside, as lunchtime approaches, half a dozen TV reporters are lined up in front of the Courts of Justice to give viewers an update. Radio too demands its regular reports.


Staff from US networks think the story may struggle to get on their bulletins, given all the election excitement. But there's no shortage of legal experts happy to give their analysis for the cameras and keep the 24-hour news machine ticking over.

At lunchtime, Sir Paul emerges from Court 34 with his lawyer Fiona Shackleton, giving a polite "no comment" to the reporters' request for an update.

Heather Mills remains inside, as a projector and screen are delivered, prompting yet more speculation, likely a short film she's prepared showing her harassment by the paparazzi, in support of her case for personal security as part of the settlement.

Later she too takes a short break, but by early afternoon she has joined Sir Paul back in the courtroom.

The legal argument - and the media's wait - continues.

Media desperate for a glimpse of McCartney and Mills

McCartney divorce hearing begins
11 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Mills' lawyers deny divorce deal
23 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Mills parts company with lawyers
09 Nov 07 |  Entertainment
Mills slates 'skinflint' Sir Paul
06 Nov 07 |  Entertainment
Mills blames Sir Paul for split
02 Nov 07 |  Entertainment

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