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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 16:45 GMT
'Happy' Mills plays to media circus
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News at the High Court

Heather Mills leaving court
Mills appeared triumphant

Much of the press gathered at the High Court for the settlement of the Heather Mills/Sir Paul McCartney divorce know the score.

For each of the six days the divorce was heard at the High Court in February there was the same ritual.

The phalanx of press photographers gathered outside the court grabbed what they could through massive telephoto lenses.

Reporters tried to decide whether the facial expression betrayed discomfort or confidence.

Heather Mills and assembled press
A throng of reporters and photographers surrounded her

On this cold but bright March morning, the final day of the proceedings, Sir Paul arrives almost without fanfare.

Heather Mills, driven through a side entrance in a black Ford Mondeo, goes from car to door in a few seconds.

By the time most reporters reach the court - having first negotiated the metal detectors - both Sir Paul and his soon-to-be ex-wife are inside. The court is in closed session, and the waiting starts.

For a good three hours, the press wait outside the closed door of Court 34.

Ms Mills' bodyguard and her personal trainer view the surrounding hacks with guarded expressions. An artist works on a crayon sketch of the assembled press.

Press pandemonium

The hours tick by. Sir Paul makes his way out of the court for a toilet stop. He gives no comment but acknowledges the press. He looks positive. How positive, how confident the reporters must decide amongst themselves.

When Heather Mills makes her exit she announces she will make her statement on the steps - in front of the TV cameras - rather than to the reporters waiting with pads and pens in hand. She does not want to be misquoted, apparently.

Outside the court's front entrance, pandemonium is taking place. Photographers jostle for position. Any reporter raising his head gets shouted down by baying snappers. Mills, dressed in jeans, 70s-style jacket and bright red blouse, sweeps down the steps with her sister.

Heather Mills kisses her sister
Mills kissed her sister in front of the world's press

The press descend.

A little over a year ago, Heather Mills appeared on BBC Breakfast and GMTV to complain of the press's treatment of her. Today, she is treating the throng like loyal friends or confidantes.

The result was "incredible", she proclaims, and she is "very happy" with her settlement, even though, on paper, the settlement constitutes around a fifth of what she was originally claiming.

She speaks of her sadness that her daughter Beatrice has been put through it, and offers her own brand of advice to anyone contemplating divorce.

She tuts at the waste of money on a High Court divorce that could have been better spent by charities.

She promises to stay in the UK so that her daughter can stay near her father - but admits a sentence later that Sir Paul would "have an injunction on me in a second" if she moved to another country.

She will appeal, she says, not against the settlement but against the publication of the full ruling because of details about her daughter.

She thanks us - scribbling journalists and shouting photographers - for our support, before giving the lensmen a last photo opportunity on the steps. The press scramble to their mobile phones and laptops.

And Sir Paul? His only comment as he leaves court is: "All will be revealed."



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