Mills PR adviser quits after her attack on media

LONDON Thu Nov 1, 2007 7:59am EDT

LONDON Nov 1 (Reuters) - The press spokesman for Heather Mills, estranged wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, has quit over television interviews she gave accusing the media of branding her a "whore" and "gold digger."

The outburst by the charity worker and former model, which made front-page news in British tabloids on Thursday, was a mistake, according to Phil Hall.

"It was definitely the wrong thing to do," said Hall, hired by Mills in 2006 when she and McCartney announced their split. The couple married in 2002 and have a daughter, Beatrice.

"I'm very sad about it," he told Reuters. "We've been through a lot during the last two years and it's a shame."

Hall, former editor of tabloid weekly News of the World, resigned as Mills' main link to the media on Tuesday when she told him of her plans to go ahead with the interviews.

Speaking to GMTV on Wednesday, Mills accused the tabloids of driving her close to suicide.

"They've called me a whore, a gold-digger, a fantasist, a liar, the most unbelievably hurtful things," she said, fighting back tears several times.

Hall said he had advised Mills to not react to bad press.

"My view is that you need good relations with the media to turn the negative into the positive and I advise always to ignore the stuff thrown at you," he explained.

Mills, 39, has been vilified by some media since she married McCartney, seen by many Britons as a cultural icon.

Scrutiny of her past and private life has been intense since the split was announced, especially because Mills and McCartney are in the middle of a bitter divorce battle.

DOG STORY FINAL STRAW

Hall said Mills had succeeded in winning over the media during the last year by keeping a low profile, but believed one recent tabloid story had "tipped her over the edge".

The Sun, singled out by Mills in her attack on the press, reported this week that her neighbour claimed a firework display staged by Mills killed her dog. Mills denies the allegation.

Both the Sun and rival the Daily Mirror ran stories about the interview on their front pages on Thursday, calling it a rant and expressing concern over her mental state.

"Help! She Needs Somebody" wrote the Sun.

In the GMTV interview Mills complained of her treatment.

"I've stayed quiet for my daughter. We've had death threats, I've been close to suicide ... I've had worse threats than a paedophile or a murderer and I've done nothing but charity for 20 years," she said.

Mills compared her situation to that of Kate McCann, the mother of missing girl Madeleine.

The Daily Mail said Mills had "lost the last few shreds of sympathy that people might still have held for her.

"How dare she compare herself to Kate McCann; as if enduring the uncomfortable spotlight of a very public divorce is in any way akin to losing a daughter and being branded a murderer," wrote commentator Amanda Platell.

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