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Thursday, 23 April, 1998, 06:25 GMT 07:25 UK
Sheriff's inquiry into McCartney death
memorial
Mourners express their sympathy by signing a memorial card
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department is investigating why no death certificate has been filed for Linda McCartney, the wife of the former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

She died on Friday aged 56 after a long fight against breast cancer.

linda
Assisted suicide ruled out
Sir Paul has denied reports that her death was "assisted". It has emerged that she did not die in Santa Barbara, as was first thought. Reports say she died in Tucson, Arizona.

Sheriff's officials refused to give further details of the investigation.

Spokesman Sgt Jim Peterson said: "This is an ongoing active investigation and until we get some of our questions answered, we're not going to be able to comment any further."

Asked if the investigation covered the circumstances of her death or the paperwork procedures following it, Peterson said: "It's the whole thing."

Coroner and health department officials said they do not have the paperwork that must be filed after a person dies in the county. This includes a death certificate and a form for the dispensation of human remains.

Sgt Tom Nelson, who runs the Coroner's Bureau of the Sheriff's Department, told the Santa Barbara News-Press the coroner has no death certificate and did not issue the necessary permit for Mrs McCartney to be cremated.

'Private place'

Sir Paul's spokesman Geoff Baker in a statement said that there was no question of an assisted suicide.

Reports have surfaced that she died outside the city, possibly in Tucson, Arizona, where she had been treated during her illness.

"When Linda died last Friday with her family around her it was in a place that was private to her and her family," Mr Baker said.

"Everyone has always assumed that it was Santa Barbara, California. So, in an effort to allow the family time to get back to England in peace and in private it was stated that she had died in Santa Barbara.

"The family hopes that they can maintain this one private place that they have in the world. For whatever reason, there have been unfounded reports that Linda had been assisted in her death. This is not true.

"Linda's doctor was Larry Norton of the Sloane Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York. If need be, Dr Norton will confirm that Linda died naturally.

"The family hopes that the press does not need to take it that far and further hopes that the press will respect the fact of this private place."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
The BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles: "Reports now say she died in Tucson, Arizona"
BBC News
Correspondent Clive Myrie says the rumours of assisted suicide are likely to disappear quickly (2'13")
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