Photographed for PETA
12 January 1968 |
Aldershot, Hampshire, England
|Residence||Robertsbridge, East Sussex
Millstätter See, Austria
|Education||Usworth Grange Primary & Comprehensive School, Washington, Tyne and Wear.
Hydeburn Comprehensive, London
|Occupation||Businesswoman and charity campaigner|
|Net worth||£24.3 million + (estimated)|
Alfie Karmal (m. 1989–91)
|Children||Beatrice Milly McCartney|
|Parents||John "Mark" Francis Mills and Beatrice Mary Mills, née Finlay (both deceased)|
|Relatives||Shane, Fiona (siblings) & Claire (half-sister)|
Heather Anne Mills (born 12 January 1968) is an English entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist, environmentalist, revolutionary campaigner, inventor, Alpine ski racer and mother.
She started her business career after leaving home at the age of 14. By the age of 20 she had successfully built and sold businesses, importing ladies' undergarments as well as establishing and running a successful model agency, Exsell.
In 1990 she moved to the former Yugoslavia, now Slovenia and became involved in the Balkan crisis. She then set up a refugee crisis centre in London funded from the sale of her UK businesses and started a career in charity and campaigning.
Returning from the Balkan crisis in 1993 to advise the Shadow Defence Secretary of the situation, Mills was involved in a road traffic accident with a police motorcycle in London. She had her left leg amputated below the knee, suffered a fractured skull, crushed pelvis, broken ribs and a punctured lung. This bought her to the attention of the public eye. She then used the proceeds from her media attention to establish the Heather Mills Health Trust. The Trust allowed workshops to be set up in prisons to dismantle and recycle prosthetic limbs by collecting unused limbs from clinics around the UK. These were then driven my Mills and her team to Croatia to aid victims of war and landmine explosions. Over 400,000 have been helped to date.
In 1993 Mills started her career in television, counseling and public speaking.
She came to further public attention in 2000 when it became known that she was in a relationship with the former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney. They married in June 2002 and Mills gave birth to Beatrice Milly McCartney on 28 October 2003. The couple separated in 2006 and finalised their divorce in 2008.
In 2008, Mills created VBites, the international vegan ethical food company and founded in 2009 VBites restaurants.
Then in 2010, Mills became involved in Alpine Ski Racing. She trained as a professional ski racer and was recruited by the British Disabled Ski Team, competing in all 5 disciplines worldwide. She won an array of medals during her Alpine Ski Career.
- 1 Early life
- 2 London and modelling
- 3 Accident and amputees
- 4 Some of Heather's Awards
- 5 Relationship with Paul McCartney
- 6 Media image and criticism
- 7 Activism
- 8 Commercial interests
- 9 TV appearances
- 10 British disabled ski team
- 11 Present life
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Heather Mills was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, to John "Mark" Francis Mills (a former British paratrooper), and his wife, Beatrice Mary Mills, née Finlay, who was the daughter of a colonel in the British Army. Her father was adopted at age seven and grew up in Brighton, where his foster parents had a grocery shop, although his foster-father also worked as a mechanic for a Grand Prix racing team. Her mother was born in India, during World War II, but was educated at English boarding schools. They met at Newcastle University, and were married against the wishes of Finlay's father, who did not attend the wedding and only saw his daughter once more before he died.
Beatrice spoke several languages and played the piano, and Mark played banjo and guitar, liked photography (winning an Evening Standard award), and took part in numerous sports. He was very fond of animals (working for the RSPCA for a time), and Mills remembered her family always having a dog and a cat, as well as once having a pet goose and a white nanny goat that was allowed to roam the house owned by Mark's parents in Libanus, near Brecon.
The Mills family spent their holidays in Libanus and also lived there for a time. When Mills was six years old, the family moved north to Alnwick, in Northumberland, but moved shortly after to a block of flats in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and then on to Cockshott Farm, in Rothbury, Northumberland. She attended Usworth Grange Primary school, and then Usworth Comprehensive school in Washington. She visited Usworth Comprehensive in 2003, as guest of honour at a prize-giving event and to support the school against plans for its closure.
Mills later wrote that she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a swimming pool attendant when she was eight years old, but her next-door neighbour, Margaret Ambler, who was sexually abused by the swimming pool attendant, alleged that Mills' story was "nothing what she made it out to be", that Mills was never a victim, and the pool attendant did not commit suicide, as Mills had written. Although having received a letter from Mills offering £10,000 to stop a court case, Ambler complained that the story had caused her deep discomfort by bringing the incident to national attention, so she sued for breach of privacy, accepting an out-of-court settlement of £5,000 in compensation, and £54,000 legal costs.
Beatrice left home when Mills was nine years old, which left her, her older brother Shane, and her younger sister, Fiona, in the care of their father. Mills said that her father once threw her brother against a window for making a mess on the carpet with crayons. The window broke and her brother had to be taken to hospital, where their father explained that the boy had fallen on some glass in the garden. Fiona said: "Our family were always short of money and our father demanded that we find food and clothes so we turned to shoplifting, learnt to hide from the bailiffs and became experts at domestic duties. I’m not ashamed to say that we were forced to steal because when you are a young child, you’d rather do that than face a beating from your father". (Their father disputed his daughters' allegations that he was violent towards them, later releasing home movies of family holidays in Wales, showing Mills playing happily).
London and modelling
When her father was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of fraud, she left home with her sister to live with her mother and partner (Crossroads actor Charles Stapley), in Clapham, London, although her brother went to Brighton to live with his paternal grandparents. She later wrote that at the age of 15 she ran away to join a funfair, and then lived in a cardboard box under Waterloo Station for four months, although Stapley denied this by saying that she occasionally left home at weekends to travel with a young man who worked for a funfair in London. During her stated period of homelessness, her school records indicate that she and her sister were both enrolled at Usworth comprehensive in Tyne and Wear until April 1983, and then at Hydeburn Comprehensive, in Balham, on 6 June 1983, where they both stayed until 2 July 1984. She remembered that a teacher at the Hydeburn once said, "there's no hope for her at all", and that she left school with no academic qualifications. In the same year, her father had another daughter, Claire Mills, with a new partner. Mills worked for a croissant shop, but was sacked, and vowed "never to work for anyone else again". She later wrote that the owner of a jewellery shop in Clapham gave her a job on Saturdays, but Jim Guy, the owner of Penrose Jewellers, later stated: "Everything she wrote about me was lies, I never gave her a job; she just hung around and made tea. She told me her father was dead. The only thing that was true was she nicked stuff from the shop", which Guy said was worth £20,000. She admitted that she had stolen some gold chains and sold them to buy a moped, and when Guy reported the theft, she was put on probation.
Alfie Karmal (the son of a Palestinian father and Greek mother), was ten years older than Mills when they met in 1986. Karmal bought her new clothes, Cartier jewellery and paid for cosmetic surgery when she complained that her breasts were sagging. She later said that she had had a breast reduction operation, reducing her bra size from a 34E to a 34C. She reached the final of the Cinzano Model of the Year Competition, so Karmal, who had moved into the computer industry, set up a model agency for her, ExSell Management, although it was not successful.In 1987, Mills went to live in Paris, telling Karmal that a cosmetics company had given her a modelling contract, but became the mistress of millionaire Lebanese businessman George Kazan for two years and took part in a photo session for a stills-only German sex education manual called Die Freuden der Liebe (The Joys of Love),. She also modelled for full-frontal nude photographs.
After returning to London, Mills asked Karmal to marry her. Karmal said yes, but on one condition: "I told her I couldn't marry her until she did something about her compulsive lying, and she agreed to see a psychiatrist for eight weeks. She admitted she had a problem and said it was because she'd been forced to lie as a child by her father". Although Mills proposed to Karmal, she later said that every man she has been out with "has asked me to marry him within a week". While married to Karmal, she suffered two ectopic pregnancies, so Karmal paid for her to go on holiday to Croatia with his children and ex-wife (with whom Mills had become friends), in 1990, but Mills ended up living with her ski instructor, Miloš Pogačar, shortly before the Croatian War began. Mills then set up a refugee crisis centre in London, helping over 20 people to escape the war. She drove by herself to deliver donations to Croatia, taking modelling assignments in Austria on the way to pay for the trip, later saying that she "worked on the front line in a war zone in the former Yugoslavia for two years where there were mines everywhere that weren't marked". Karmal and Mills were divorced and Mills was later engaged to Raffaele Mincione (a bond dealer for the Industrial Bank of Japan) in 1993.
Accident and amputees
On 8 August 1993, Mills and Mincione walked to the corner of De Vere Gardens and Kensington Road, London, but while crossing Kensington Road, Mills was knocked down by a police motorcycle (the last in a convoy of three), which was responding to an emergency call. Mills suffered crushed ribs, a punctured lung, and the loss of her left leg 6 inches below the knee; a metal plate was later attached to her pelvis. In October 1993, she had another operation which further shortened her leg. Mills was awarded £200,000 by the police authority as recompense for her injuries, even though the police motorcyclist, PC Osbourne, was later cleared by magistrates of driving without due care and attention. After the accident, Mills sold her story to the News of the World, and gave other interviews, saying she earned £180,000. She used the money to set up the Heather Mills Health Trust which delivers prosthetic limbs to people, particularly children, who have lost limbs after stepping on landmines. Mills often shows people her prosthetic leg, once taking it off during an interview on the American talk show Larry King Live, in 2002.
Mills booked herself into the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, which put her on a raw food vegan diet, using wheat grass and garlic poultices to heal her wound. After an operation, Mills discovered that she had been previously identified as having an O rhesus negative blood type, when in fact she was A rhesus negative, which had interfered with her attempts to follow the so-called blood type diet. As her prosthetic leg had to be replaced on a regular basis (because the size of the amputated stump kept changing as it healed), she had the idea to collect thousands of discarded prosthetic limbs for amputees in Croatia. Mills persuaded the Brixton prison governor to get inmates to dismantle and pack the prosthetic limbs before being transported, which resulted in 22,000 amputees obtaining limbs in addition to the Croatian citizens who were already supplied with prosthetic limbs by the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance, which paid for the fitting of limbs and rehabilitation of patients. The first convoy of limbs arrived in Zagreb in October 1994 and Mills travelled with the convoy to film interviews with some of the recipients for the Good Morning with Anne and Nick daytime TV show. She received an award in 2001 from Croatia's prime minister for the money she raised to help clear that country of landmines.
With the help of ghostwriter Pamela Cockerill, Mills wrote a book about her experience titled Out on a Limb (1995), which was republished in America as A Single Step (2002). Extracts from Out on a Limb were serialised in The Daily Mail in March 2000. Mills handed all the proceeds from the book to Adopt-A-Minefield, and stated that it was one of "the few charities that 100% of their donations goes to clear minefields and survivor assistance". In 1995, Mills got engaged to British media executive Marcus Stapleton, after being together for only 16 days, and was then engaged to respected documentary filmmaker Chris Terrill in 1999, after only 12 days in Cambodia, where they were making a film about landmines. Mills ended their relationship five days before their planned wedding day, later telling friends in the media that she had called the wedding off because Terrill was gay, an MI6 agent, and that his mission was to sabotage her anti-landmine work. Terrill had once told Mills that he had been interviewed by the intelligence services when he was thinking of a career with the Foreign Office, but later said, "I soon realised that Heather [Mills] had a somewhat elastic relationship with the truth, which she was able to stretch impressively sometimes". Terrill also claims that although Mills said she was a vegetarian at the time, she often cooked her speciality dish, Lancashire hotpot, which contains lamb, for him; and her ex sister-in-law, Dianna Karmal, claims that Mills only became a vegetarian after meeting McCartney.
In 2003, the Open University awarded her an honorary doctorate for her philanthropic work on behalf of amputees. She continues to campaign, in addition to promoting the distribution of prostheses around the world and has been involved with the development of the Heather Mills McCartney Cosmesis, which gives amputees in America the chance to wear a Dorset Orthopaedic cosmesis, without having to travel to the UK. Mills is also vice-president of the Limbless Association. In 2004, she received a "Children in Need" award from the annual International Charity Gala in Düsseldorf and in the same year, the University of California, Irvine, gave her their 2004 Human Security Award and created the Heather Mills McCartney Fellowship in Human Security to support graduate students conducting research on pressing human security issues. She is a former Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Association Adopt-A-Minefield programme.
Some of Heather's Awards
1996 Outstanding Young Person of the Year: Overcoming adversity.
1996 Gold Award for Outstanding Achievement: Outstanding achievement.
1996 Human Achievement Award - The Times: Outstanding charity work.
1996 Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize: Work with landmines and amputees.
1999 Pride of Britain Awards: Saving lives and making the community a better place.
2001 Croatian Humanitarian Award from Croatian Prime Minister, Ivica Racan: Work with war victims and mine clearance.
2003 Open University Sesame Honorary Graduate: Philanthropic work on behalf of amputees.
2003 Melvin Jones Fellow Lion Award: Acknowledgement of work with war victims, raising funds and awareness to rid world of landmines.
2004 Inaugural UNESCO Children In Need : Commitment to victims of landmines.
2004 UCI University of California Irvine Fellowship Award in Human Security: Work with landmines and announcement of the Heather Mills Fellowship Award.
2004 Open University Doctorate.
2005 PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Humanitarian award.
2006 Graduate Fellowship in Human Security, UCI: Presenting the Heather Mills Graduate Fellowship Award in Human Security to Ted Gaulin.
2007 Vegan Society Achievement Award: Voted the peoples favourite vegan.
2008 Animal Activist of the Year: Leadership,advocacy and passionate commitment to animal liberation.
2009 VegNews Person of the Year: Most successful vegan businesswoman.
2010 Compassionate Visionary Award Outstanding work on behalf of farmed animals.
2010 Easter Seals Lilli and Allan Shedlin Award: Uncompromising commitment to help others from the USA’s biggest and longest running disabled charity.
Relationship with Paul McCartney
Mills met McCartney at the Dorchester Hotel, during the Pride of Britain Awards event in April 1999, which McCartney had attended to present an award to an animal rights activist. Mills presented the Outstanding Bravery Award to Helen Smith; also making an appeal on behalf of the Heather Mills Health Trust. McCartney also presented an award dedicated to his late wife, Linda McCartney. McCartney talked to Mills about donating to her charity – later giving her £150,000. In the autumn of 1999, Mills and her sister recorded "VO!CE"; a song they wrote to raise funds for Mills' charity, with McCartney agreeing to sing backing vocals. After recording the song in Greece (where Mills’ sister lived, running the independent label Coda Records), the sisters stayed overnight at McCartney's estate in Peasmarsh, Sussex, in early November, where McCartney added vocals to the song. Having sparked the interest of the tabloids about his appearances with Mills at events, McCartney appeared publicly beside her at a party in January 2000 to celebrate her 32nd birthday.
While on holiday in the Lake District, McCartney proposed to Mills on 23 July 2001, giving her a £15,000 diamond and sapphire ring he had purchased in Jaipur, India, while they were both there on holiday.
Mills and McCartney were married on 11 June 2002, four years after McCartney's first wife had died of breast cancer. The McCartney/Mills wedding was an elaborate ceremony at Castle Leslie (once the home of Shane Leslie), in the village of Glaslough in County Monaghan, Ireland. A song specially composed by McCartney, called "Heather", was played, which had been included on the 2001 album, Driving Rain.
Mills said that she liked to cook traditional (but meat-free) Christmas dinners for McCartney and as many of his family as possible, and that McCartney had encouraged her to give up her self-confessed addiction to chocolate and Snickers bars. When asked by chat-show host Larry King (in 2003), how life was with McCartney, Mills replied "Great, really great," but also said that she was surprised at how tidy McCartney was: "He always cleans up before the cleaner comes. So I said for a while that's crazy, but what's good is if I cook the dinner, he'll clean everything up."
In 2003, McCartney played a concert in Red Square, Russia. Vladimir Putin gave the couple a tour of the Kremlin. McCartney later said that Mills' contribution was giving him an acrylic fingernail to protect a finger on his left hand that often bled after playing guitar. McCartney admitted that Mills inspired him, as "Being in love with her makes me want to write songs", such as "Too Much Rain" on Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, and "See Your Sunshine" ("She makes me feel glad/I want her so bad") from Memory Almost Full. Another composition inspired by Mills was used as the bridal march at their wedding.
During a Parkinson chat show on 22 February 2003, host Michael Parkinson asked if it was because of McCartney that Mills did not give any interviews, and she replied that she wanted to protect McCartney, his children, and their privacy. On the same show she said that her previous ectopic pregnancies had damaged her fertility, and that her chances of getting pregnant were small, although the couple announced that they were expecting their first child in May 2003. Mills gave birth to Beatrice Milly McCartney on 28 October 2003, who was named after Mills' mother, and McCartney's aunt. It was later revealed that Mills had suffered a miscarriage in the first year of marriage to McCartney. Mills was invited by Larry King to interview Paul Newman, which was broadcast by CNN on 17 April 2004. McCartney had arranged for Newman to be interviewed by Mills, but critical reactions to the show were mixed. Mills appeared on other TV programmes, such as BBC1's Question Time and GMTV, and persuaded McCartney to join her on ITV's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
After some time apart, Mills and McCartney separated on 17 May 2006. In November 2007, Mills gave a number of interviews, saying that the breakdown of the marriage was caused by her husband's daughter, Stella, whom she described as "jealous" and "evil". Mills had previously talked with New York magazine, saying Stella had once issued a press release confirming how much she liked her new stepmother, although Stella's publicist denied that such a statement had ever been issued.
After dismissing Anthony Julius, a Mishcon de Reya lawyer, Mills stated she would represent herself in the upcoming divorce hearing, with help from her sister Fiona, David Rosen (a solicitor-advocate), and Michael Shilub, an American attorney. In leaked documents, Mills complained that McCartney was often drunk, smoked cannabis, stabbed her with a broken wine glass, pushed her over a table, and pushed her into a bathtub when she was pregnant. Referring to her part in the marriage, Mills said that she had been a full-time wife, mother, lover, confidante, business partner and psychologist to McCartney. McCartney’s lawyers studied Mills’ book: Life Balance: The Essential Keys to a Lifetime of Wellbeing (published on 25 May 2006), as it contradicted many of her claims, such as when she praised McCartney for "Bringing me breakfast in bed every morning, no matter how he feels, and I do the dinner, so we’ve got that agreement. It’s thoughtfulness". Mills' father reconciled with his daughter after meeting her and McCartney, when they introduced him to his granddaughter, Beatrice. After their separation, he said that it "took guts to represent yourself at the High Court", and that he was proud of his daughter, even though he thought she would be "torn to shreds" by McCartney's lawyers.
The case was heard in court 34, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. At the start of the proceedings Mills asked for £125 million, but McCartney offered £15.8 million. Before the court case, Mills had employed the accountancy firm Lee and Allen to examine McCartney's publishing company, business assets and properties, saying that she had a tape recording of McCartney admitting his true worth, but the presiding judge, Mr Justice Bennett, turned down numerous requests for information by Lee and Allen.
The hearing took six days, finishing on 18 February 2008, with the judgment being made public on 17 March 2008. Mills was eventually awarded a lump sum of £16.5m, together with assets of £7.8m, which included the properties she owned at the time. The total was £24.3 million, plus payments of £35,000 per annum, for a nanny and school costs for their daughter. In his judgment, Justice Bennett described Mills as a "kindly person" who argued her case with a "steely, yet courteous, determination", but concluded that much of her evidence was, "not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid", and that overall she was a "less than impressive witness". The divorce was granted on 12 May 2008, and the preliminary divorce decree was finalised six weeks later. She later considered trying to have the injunction lifted that stopped her talking publicly about the case, as the sections released were against her wishes, saying that it would "perhaps be better for the public to see everything".
After the decision, Mills talked about McCartney: "I will never get over it. I will always love Paul. He is the father of my child, but I just have to move on and deal with it and there is nothing I can do ... I have never spoken badly about my husband. I never will, he is the father of my child".
During their marriage she was known as Heather Mills McCartney, but after her divorce she reverted to Heather Mills, although she should still be correctly referred to as Lady McCartney; as the former wife of a Knight, she technically retains that title. She was addressed as such by Lord Justice Leveson, during the Leveson Inquiry.
Media image and criticism
Mills' relationship with McCartney triggered considerable media interest, but after her divorce, the attitude of the British media was hostile. Mills frequently accuses the press of misquoting her, and of using material out of context to give a negative impression of her, telling the Evening Standard that the claims that she had married McCartney for his money were more hurtful than losing her leg.
Mills has been accused by several newspapers of having embellished her life story: journalist namesake Heather Mills, then at The Observer, accused Mills of impersonating her for over a year in the late 1990s, showing people cuttings of articles the journalist had written, which helped Mills secure a job presenting The General TV show, which was a BBC programme about Southampton General Hospital. There were also doubts about Mills’ claim that she had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (because the Heather Mills Health Trust had given away thousands of prosthetic limbs to landmine victims), but the nomination cannot yet be proven because the identities of all nominees remain secret for 50 years.
Stapely (Mills' stepfather) disputed Mills' statement that her mother had nearly lost a leg in a car crash, after Mills said, "her leg was only hanging on by a tiny flap of skin and flesh ... miraculously the surgeons managed to insert a metal plate and reattach it". Stapely said that Mills' mother had suffered a leg injury after a car crash, but recovered and was "a keen tennis player" and that Mills, "is simply a very confused woman for whom reality and fantasy have become blurred". He died in January 2011.
Mills said that she had once been asked to stand for parliament by the three main political parties, and had been offered a peerage in 2001 (to become Baroness Mills) by the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and a certain "Lord Macdonald". An ITV documentary (McCartney vs McCartney: The Ex Files) interviewed three Lord Macdonalds, but not one of them could remember ever meeting Mills. British journalist Jasper Gerard, to whom Mills made the claims, also says she told him that she had cancelled a meeting with Bill Clinton in case her endorsement affected a US election outcome. Mills stated that she was once awarded the Outstanding Young Person of the Year award by the British Chambers of Commerce, but did not challenge newspapers after they discovered there was no such award.
In October 2006, Mills announced her intention to sue The Daily Mail, The Sun and the Evening Standard. All the newspapers said that the stories "were obtained by proper methods and in accordance with good journalistic practice". The Sun, which regularly refers to Mills as "Mucca" – a play on McCartney's nickname "Macca" – responded by asking her to "tick the boxes" on a series of allegations the newspaper had made, stating, "It is not clear what exactly she plans to sue us about". Underneath the questions, The Sun listed six allegations about her, with a blank box beside each one. The words beside the boxes read: "Hooker, Liar, Porn Star, Fantasist, Trouble Maker, Shoplifter".
In December 2006, Mills told the BBC that she had received death threats, and on 17 December 2006, police stated that a "non-specific threat" had been made to her safety. This led to more criticism that she was calling out the emergency services too often. In March 2007, Kevin Moore, Chief Superintendent of Sussex Police, said that Mills was running "the risk of being treated as the little boy who cried wolf", and added, "We do have to respond to a disproportionate high volume of calls from Heather Mills McCartney because of the situations she finds herself in, and this is regrettable as it takes officers away from other policing matters". Mills responded that the police had told her to contact them whenever she was being harassed.
During a 5-day trial in July 2007, it was revealed that Mills had been physically assaulted by Jay Kaycappa in Brighton. Kaycappa was a notorious paparazzo trying to photograph Mills while on shifts for a national newspaper and a regional press agency. Kaycappa, who had 132 previous criminal convictions, including perverting the course of justice, obtaining property by deception, driving offences and using ten aliases, was found guilty and sentenced to a 140-hour community order and ordered to pay Mills £100, plus £1,000 court costs.
During several interviews in October 2007, Mills accused the media of giving her "worse press than a paedophile or a murderer". She also criticised the media over the treatment of Diana, Princess of Wales – who, according to Mills, was "chased and killed" by paparazzi – and of Kate McCann. Immediately before giving these interviews, her PR adviser, Phil Hall (the ex-Editor of the News of the World), quit. In 2008, a survey commissioned by Marketing magazine showed Mills as one of the top five most hated celebrity women, along with Amy Winehouse, Victoria Beckham and Kerry Katona.
In December 2008, the Channel 4 television comedy series Star Stories broadcast a satirical mockumentary of Mills' life story from her point of view. In 2009, after petitioning the Press Complaints Commission in the UK about being lied about in the press, five British tabloids (The Sun, The Daily Express, News of the World, Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror) publicly apologised to Mills about printing false, hurtful or defamatory stories about her. Another tabloid (the Daily Mail), sent a private letter of apology. Mills has complained that over 4,400 abusive articles about her have been published.
Criticism of press coverage
In 2002, Mills accepted damages of £50,000 plus costs from the Sunday Mirror, after a false report that the Charity Commission had investigated her about the money she raised for the Indian earthquake victims appeal in 2001. The extent and nature of the British press coverage of Mills has been criticised, as in May 2003, when Guardian columnist Matt Seaton wrote a piece declaring "There is little that is edifying in the symbolic lynching of Heather. The poisonous judgmentalism that drives it is in the worst tradition of small town gossip. It is prurient, spiteful, hypocritical, and we should cry 'shame' on it". Publicist Mark Borkowski wrote in the Independent on Sunday, on 23 March 2008: "Not since the cult of Myra Hindley have we encountered so much vitriol aimed at one woman". Feminist writer Natasha Walter has compared the coverage to that of Britney Spears. Terence Blacker wrote that public figures who are young, female, pretty and fair-haired, are often subjected to public bullying which is explained as "intense media interest", such as Diana, Princess of Wales, Paula Yates, Ulrika Jonsson and Mills.
Kira Cochrane, in The Guardian, said that "every misogynist epithet available" has been used against Mills. "She has somehow become the vessel through which it is acceptable for both pundits and the public to express their very worst feelings about women". Joan Smith, writing in The Independent, said that newspaper "Bullies love a weakling"; quoting the Daily Mirror's front page headline: "Lady Liar" and The Sun newspaper writing "Pornocchio" over Mills' face (in reference to Pinocchio's nose getting longer when he lied and her past photographs). Smith went on to say that Mills had "dreamt of becoming the wife of a famous man but did not realise that he had fantasies of his own, marrying an attractive younger woman when he hadn't got over the loss of his first wife. Mills behaved foolishly when the marriage failed but she does not deserve the treatment she has had in the mass-market press. It is merciless bullying of an unstable, vulnerable woman". In 2009, Mills reported a bogus charity was set up to extract information about her marriage. News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is alleged to have set up the sting. The British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror ran the headline, "Macca marriage to Heather was mistake of the decade" following an interview McCartney gave to Q magazine. McCartney immediately moved to deny this statement and then went on to publicly print the original transcript on his official website to prove the Daily Mirror article was false.
Celia Larkin, writing on 12 February 2012 in the Irish Sunday Independent, said "There was something very satisfying about Heather Mills finally having her voice heard above the roar of the Red Tops. If you actually take the time to listen to Mills, I mean listen, not just read what's written about her, you'll see she is a strong, sincere, independent women. She didn't lie down under the weight of McCartney's fame and wealth, she continued to plough her own furrow, campaigning for her charities, maintaining a strong individuality. And that, it seems, is the greatest sin of all. Is it any wonder she was reduced to tears in the October 2007 GMTV interview? Did we feel sympathy for her then? No. 'Heather Mills has Melt Down' screamed the headlines, so now she had lost her marbles to boot. And if that wasn't enough, Carole Malone of the Sunday Mirror, one of the papers that was relentless in its attacks on Mills, accused her of staging an act on live TV in order to further her cause in the upcoming divorce hearing. How cruel can you get?"
Phone hacking and Leveson Inquiry
On 5 May 2011, The Guardian reported that Mills met with officers from the London Metropolitan Police who showed her evidence, seized from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, which could form the basis of a claim against the News of the World for breach of privacy over alleged phone hacking. Mills' name and private mobile phone number were listed in Mulcaire's notes along with those of her friends and associates. Mills later alleged that a journalist working for the Mirror Group had admitted to her in 2001 that he had hacked her phone.
Appearing as a witness at the Leveson Inquiry on 9 February 2012, Mills was asked under oath if she had ever made a recording of Paul McCartney's phonecalls or answerphone messages and had ever played it to Piers Morgan or "anybody else", she replied, "Never, ever." Giving evidence in December 2011, Morgan, who bragged in a newspaper column for the Daily Mail in 2006 about hearing the message, refused to say who had played him the recorded message of the call, saying he was protecting a source. Mills told the inquiry that Morgan was "a man that has written nothing but awful things about me for years and would have relished telling the inquiry if I had played a personal voicemail message to him." In the official findings of his Inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson said Morgan's testimony under oath on phone hacking was "utterly unpersuasive. This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer" and "What it does, however, clearly prove is that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it."(see the testimony: )
In 2005, Mills became a patron of the British animal rights organisation Viva!, and the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation, which are both run by Juliet Gellatley. In 2006, Mills and Gellatley attended a debate on fur at the Oxford Union, where she presented a video depicting the skinning of a dog. She posed with her own dog in an anti-fur advertisement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which read: "If you wouldn't wear your dog, please don't wear fur".
In March 2006, Mills and McCartney travelled to Canada to bring attention to the country's annual seal hunt. Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, they complained that the hunt was inhumane, and called on the Canadian government to put an end to it. Their arrival on the floes sparked much attention in Newfoundland and Labrador, where 90 per cent of the sealers live. Mills and McCartney protested against seals being clubbed to death, pierced with boat hooks and sometimes skinned alive. Newfoundland and Labrador's Premier, Danny Williams, debated the issue with them on Larry King Live, the issue being that seals are no longer hunted that way, and have not been for a while. Mills joined a Viva! film team at a pig farm in Somerset, in February 2007, to publicise the use of restrictive farrowing crates, which are used for sows who are suckling piglets. A video of the investigation was made available on the Internet.
Mills's relationship with PETA ended in 2007, when McCartney's daughter, Mary, said she would not continue to take photographs for the organisation if Mills was involved with them. A PETA representative told the New York Post: "Heather's exposé of the Chinese fur industry remains one of most popular videos on our site, but we don't have any imminent campaigns planned with her".
Mills spoke in Hyde Park, London, on 19 November 2007. Mills said: "Eighty per cent of global warming comes from livestock and deforestation. I'm not telling people to go vegan overnight. But if they stop drinking their cows' milk lattes, maybe this sort of thing won't have to happen".
In 2008, an old video surfaced of Mills wearing a mink coat she had owned in 1989, but explained to reporters that she had bought it years before becoming involved in animal rights organisations or vegetarianism. Although she had separated from McCartney, Mills said: "It's only since I met Paul [McCartney] that I really got to understand how vegetarianism not only benefits your health massively but also makes a huge difference to the planet, to animals, and to feeding the world." In August 2008, she was honoured by the organisation Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), with the Celebrity Animal Activist Award, presented at the Animal Rights National Conference. On 28 August 2009, at the Celebrity Catwalk event in Hollywood, Mills showed off her new "recycled clothes from charity shops" range, called Be@one. After her divorce, Mills pledged to give a "large portion" of her £24.3 million divorce settlement to Adopt-A-Minefield, but the charity has not received any to date. In June 2008, Mills was asked to talk at a New York party about the cruelty of puppy farms and to promote her book about animals, but was angry about the guests speaking over her speech, saying: "Listen up at the back. I haven’t been up for 24 hours and flew here from London to be ignored". Mills's publicist of four years, Michele Elyzabeth, stopped representing her on 25 July 2008.
On 4 July 2009, Mills opened a vegan restaurant called VBites at Hove Lagoon, Hove, Sussex. Mills is quoted as saying that she intends it to be the first in a worldwide chain of vegan restaurants. Whilst promoting the restaurant, Mills gave an interview to the BBC, stating that she'd been very proactive in the building stages and now that it was open, would give as much time to it as she could – working it around her charity work. It was reported in May 2013 that she had sold the VBites restaurant and building and opened a new VBites in East Street in Brighton.
Mills was one of the celebrity performers showcased during the US television series Dancing with the Stars in 2007, with dancing partner Jonathan Roberts. On 21 December 2009, she was revealed as one of the contestants on the fifth series of Dancing on Ice, being paired with Matt Evers.
British disabled ski team
In May 2011, Hello! magazine ran an article about her ambitions for the 2014 Paralympic Games as well as her efforts to stay fit and healthy with her vegan lifestyle following the accident. On 27 November 2011 it was reported that Mills had again had a skiing accident on the Mölltaler glacier, this time injuring the stump of her partly amputated left leg, as well as breaking her thumb. Austria's daily Kleine Zeitung newspaper quoted her as saying that two male teenagers came to her rescue, but "when I took off my artificial leg they screamed in terror, because they thought the leg had come off in the accident". She was told that it will take five weeks before she can resume training.
In March 2012, at the United States' Adaptive Alpine Skiing National Championships World Cup event held in Aspen, Colorado, she won four gold medals on the formidable Tiehack speed course (two Super G ski speed races and two downhill events) despite having to compete wearing a plaster cast to protect a broken thumb. She also won Silver at the 2013 Winter Games in Queenstown, New Zealand. She is currently ranked 28th in the world in the slalom.
On 17 December 2013, it was announced that Mills will miss the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia because of an injury to her leg caused by the adaptive equipment required by the governing body, the IPC. According to Mills' management company, over the last few weeks this has led to bleeding, blistering and a painful blood cyst, meaning she can no longer continue. In a joint statement, the British Paralympic Association and the British Disabled Ski Team said "Heather has shown determination and made great progress over the past few months and is to be commended for the success she has had in her skiing career."
On 4 June 2010, a claim for compensation alleging sexual and maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal was brought by Sara Trumble, who had been employed as a nanny for Mills' daughter since April 2004. The case was dismissed at Ashford Employment Tribunal Centre, Kent, with the tribunal concluding that all of Trumble's claims were unfounded. Employment judge Steven Vowles said that "Mills's kindness towards Miss Trumble showed that she genuinely cared about her as both an employee and a friend".
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- V Bites – official website
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Heather Mills.|