Judge: Heather Mills 'Underhanded' | Minghella Missed; Madonna's Marriage; Message From Mick

Judge: Heather Mills 'Underhanded'

The judge in the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce case found Mills’ behavior "distinctively distasteful" in his final findings on Tuesday.

Indeed, Judge Bennett came very close to accusing Mills of trying to steal nearly $1 million from McCartney during their marriage.

The shocking recitation of Mills’ monetary malfeasance comes midway through his 58-page findings, beginning at No. 135 under "Wife’s Assets."

Bennett tells the story of an office McCartney gave to Mills during their short marriage called Thames Reach for $900,000 on May 17, 2004.

"That [office] property was purchased using funds from the NatWest savings account of the wife, which had been fed the husband’s gifts to the wife $500,000 in December 2002 and again in December 2003."

On Nov. 2, 2005 — a year and a half later — Mills e-mailed McCartney’s finance director and told him there was an outstanding mortgage of almost $1 million. She wrote: "Please pay it in the following account and I will deal with closure of it." The account was in her name at NatWest, Bennett says.

Three days later, Mills e-mailed the finance director again: "There are four loans totaling $990,000." When pressed for details of the loans, she failed to come up with them. That didn’t stop her. In February 2006, she twice e-mailed the finance director asking for the money to be put in her account. She was denied each time.

Two months later, Mills and McCartney separated. Mills sold McCartney the property for $1.2 million and purchased another property for $1.1 million. From the amounts involved, it would seem like she turned a small profit.

But the Thames Reach property remained a question in McCartney’s mind. Almost a year later, in Feb. 2007, in a divorce questionnaire, Bennett says Mills answered that she’d never had any loans at all.

Judge Bennett writes that McCartney’s lawyer "put to her that that was a fraudulent attempt to extract money from [McCartney]."

"In my judgement," Bennett writes, "it is unnecessary to go so far as to characterize what [Mills] attempted as fraudulent. However, it is not an episode that does her any credit whatsoever. Either she knew or she must have known that there were no loans on Thames Reach, yet she tried to suggest that there were and thereby obtain monies by underhanded means.

"In light of McCartney’s generosity towards her, I have set out, I find Mills’s behaviour distinctly distasteful. In any event…it damages her overall credibility."

That’s not all.

Bennett berated Mills for many things in his exhaustive decision. He seems to have "gotten" Mills more than anyone thought, coming close to calling her a gold-digger and liar.

At best were his many observations of her living as an earth mother who dispenses funds to charity and takes care of the world as "make believe." It’s clear from the time he spent listening to her that she is nothing short of a fabulist who imagines herself a great Lady with a capital L.

There are innumerable surprises as you pore through Bennett’s paper: That McCartney loaned money to both of Mills’ sisters so they could live in better homes is just the tip of the iceberg. You can see now why Stella McCartney was going crazy lobbying against her stepmother; she saw what her father, still grieving for his beloved Linda and trying to move on with his life, could not.

Bennett takes particular umbrage, though, with Mills’ behavior after the separation. He calls her out on using the media, baiting paparazzi but hating them at the same time. He does more than imply that it was her side that released sealed papers from the divorce to the press.

But more succinctly, he takes Mills to task for her post-separation spending. Bennett balances the thrifty Paul, who’s never led a particularly flashy life, with Heather’s ramped-up lifestyle.

"Her expenditure from October 2006 to December 2007 totaled $7.4 million made up as to $6 million in personal expenditure, $1.3 million business expenditure and $75,000 cash expenditure," Bennett writes. He concludes that it’s all out of control.

Bennett writes: "In my judgement, Mills’s attitude…is that she is entitled for the indefinite future, if not for the whole of her life, to live at the same 'rate' as McCartney and be kept in the style to which she perceives she was accustomed during the marriage. Although she strongly denied it her case boils down to the syndrome of 'me, too' or 'if he has it, I want it too.'"

He concludes: "It must have been absolutely plain to Mills after separation that it was wholly unrealistic to expect to go on living at the rate at which she perceived she was living."

More from this extraordinary document on Thursday…

Minghella Missed; Madonna's Marriage; Message From Mick

As long as I live I will never understand the tragic sudden or unexpected deaths of people I’ve known or admired. Friends who knew director Anthony Minghella are still overcome by his passing on Tuesday at 54. He was a great artist and great friend. His importance to the original Miramax cannot be minimized, either.

"The English Patient" was such a victory for New York and for independent filmmaking that the Weinsteins instituted the Max Awards named for Anthony’s then-young son at their pre-Oscar soirees. Those parties always featured Minghella, if he was in town or nominated, in various sketches. He was a delight. His absence from all of our lives will resonate for a long time to come. ...

Much is being made of Madonna’s possible break-up with Guy Ritchie. This much is true: Ritchie skipped her Gucci-Kabbalah fundraiser on Feb. 6. Then he was nowhere to be seen for her Oscar after-party with Demi Moore or her ridiculous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She didn’t even mention him at her speech, but then again, it was all about her.

If the couple is kaput, as some have suggested, does she get to keep the little boy she spirited away from, er, adopted out of Malawi without permission? Wasn’t that a joint adoption, and isn’t it still not finalized? ...

Wednesday marks the first anniversary of the death of great R&B crooner Luther Ingram, who co-wrote "Respect Yourself" and sang, memorably, the hit "If Loving You Is Wrong." His devoted son, Eric, in St. Louis, is talking to several filmmakers about a movie of his dad’s life with his music. The script, named for the latter song, is said to be hot stuff. ...

Mick Jagger sent a special message for Martin Lewis to announce the other night in Hollywood for the 30th anniversary of the Rutles. The Rutles, if you don’t know, were the Monty Python-inspired parody of the Beatles. Their album, "All You Need Is Cash," was released three decades ago this week.

Jagger — who appeared in the Rutles film — wrote: "After all the on-and-off promises and cancelled shows, I can't believe you have finally decided — at your great age — to defy all the odds and recreate your magnificent past. I wish I could be there. If only to laugh! Yours, Mick."

Among the audience at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre: Andy Summers (The Police); Jeff Lynne (ELO); Aimee Mann; Michael Penn; Stephen Bishop; Howard Kaylan (The Turtles); Peter Asher, (Peter & Gordon); and Blondie Chaplin (sideman with the Rolling Stones and former bandmate of Ricky Fataar in the Beach Boys). Also on hand were Emo Phillips, Marcia Strassman ("Welcome Back Kotter") and Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson and Krusty the Clown).

This was the event, by the way, that Rhino/Atlantic, part of Warner M. Group, didn’t want to support. The legal department was too busy figuring out new ways to remuneratively reward Edgar Bronfman and Lyor Cohen for destroying the company. The stock closed on Tuesday at $5.21 after rebounding from $5.02 earlier. There are no WMG albums in the top 20 this week. One wonders, are there stockholders? Where are they? How can this just go on and on? ...

Finally: Gawker.com reports that Sony/Columbia was nervous about an online report this week that Will Smith is a Scientologist. Well, we told you that first last winter in an exclusive report. This is no secret. Scientology, we told you before, has been focusing on the recruitment of black celebrities for some time, pushing its Hollywood network as bait. One young black actor out there keeps forwarding me his daily pitches from the sect, even though he has no interest in it. ...