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Thursday, April 23, 1998 Published at 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK

World: Americas

Linda McCartney suicide claims dismissed
image: [ Mourners express their sympathy by signing a memorial card ]
Mourners express their sympathy by signing a memorial card

Sir Paul McCartney has described as "nonsense" reports that the death of his wife, Lady Linda McCartney, was an assisted suicide.

The BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles: "Reports now say she died in Tucson, Arizona"
The reports, in Californian newspapers, followed the announcement by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department that they are investigating why no death certificate for Linda was filed in California.

Sir Paul's spokesman, Geoff Baker, said: "For whatever reason, there have been unfounded reports that Linda had been assisted in her death. This is not true."

[ image: The Californian media has gone overboard on the story]
The Californian media has gone overboard on the story
Linda's doctor, Larry Norton from the Sloane Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York, has now issued a statement confirming that she died of natural causes.

Mr Baker added: "It is not an excuse for the media to turn this into a scandal de jour. I know the media lives off things like this, but this is not OJ, this is not Lewinsky. This a tragedy of a heroic woman dying of cancer."

It was originally thought that Linda died in Santa Barbara, but Mr Baker has since confirmed that the story was put out to allow the family to grieve privately in the hours following her death.

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

[ image:  ]
It is now understood that Linda McCartney died at a private family home in Tucson, Arizona. It has been reported that she was cremated in Tucson before her ashes were brought back to be scattered at the family farm in Sussex, England.

However, Sir Paul's spokesman is urging the media not to identify the home in Tucson. "The family hopes that they can maintain this one private place that they have in the world," he said.

"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."

Correspondent Clive Myrie says the rumours of assisted suicide are likely to disappear quickly (2'13")
Sheriff's officials in Santa Barbara will now be travelling to Tucson to confirm if Linda McCartney died there.

Police spokesman Sergeant Jim Peterson said: "We would like to get down to the bottom of the case. We would like to find out one way or another if she died in Santa Barbara county or not. If we can confirm that then the investigation will cease."

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.

Sergeant Tom Nelson, who runs the Coroner's Bureau of the Sheriff's Department, told the Santa Barbara News-Press that the coroner has no death certificate and did not issue the necessary permit for a cremation.

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