Sir Paul was involved in a scuffle with a photographer around 1:00 this morning. According to London police, Sir Paul, Geoff Baker, and two of his roadies went to the Tower Bridge to see David Blaine's latest stunt. David Blaine is an American magician who is currently in the midst of 44 days of starvation and solitary confinement while being suspended in a plexi-glass box hung from a craine beside London's River Thames. Kevin Wheal, a photographer for London's Evening Standard newspaper, claims that Sir Paul gave him a shove when he tried to photograph him. Mr. Wheal says that Sir Paul pushed him in the chest with his open palm, swore at him, and told him, "It's a private visit." According to Mr. Wheal:
"Then his friends, who seemed more like minders to me, grabbed hold of me and pushed my camera toward the ground. One of them said: 'You can't take a picture of him tonight, so back off, mate."
Mr. Wheal said he replied, "Let me just take one and I'll go." That's when Mr. Wheal claims Sir Paul pushed him and shouted at him:
"I said I only wanted to take a photo and I am doing my job. With that Paul McCartney came up, he pushed me with his
open palm on my chest and he said 'F*** off. It's a private visit. I've come to see this stupid c***'.
"'F*** off. It's a private visit. Listen mate, I've come to see this stupid c*** and you are not going to take a picture of me tonight."
Mr. Wheal continues:
"He left, but the others stayed there with me, and then one of them grabbed my arm and the other punched me several times in the face. A struggle ensued, where I broke away from them and made my way back towards the direction of Paul McCartney along with a journalist and a photographer from the Daily Mail. 'I feel outraged. I had more respect for Paul, he's a man of such legendary status. I considered him to be a family character."That sort of behavior is not acceptable. I was only doing my job. I did ask him politely if I could take a photograph. But he told me to f*** off."
After walking away from Mr. Wheal, it is reported that Sir Paul turned on Geoff Baker, believing that his publicist had alerted the press about the visit. He told Mr. Baker:
"You are bang out of order. You are fired now."
As Sir Paul left the Potters Field Park, the Evening Standard reports that Sir Paul turned his anger on another one of their reporters, Abul Taher. When the reporter asked him to comment on the Blaine stunt, Sir Paul shouted:
"F*** off. I am a pedestrian on a private visit. I'm not saying anything and you can quote me on that."
Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Sir Paul was then approached by a fan, Vaseem Adnan, a 32-year-old recruitment consultant from Colliers Wood and father of two, who asked Sir Paul, "Mr. McCartney, I am a member of the public, can I shake your hand?" Sir Paul obviously wasn't in the mood. He told Mr. Adnan:
"F*** off. I am not shaking your hand. I am a pedestrian on a private visit."
Mr. Adnan was stunned: "I feel insulted and belittled. I've lost respect for him. He is an extremely cheap man for doing this."
A Scotland Yard spokesman is reporting the incident this way:
"Shortly before 1:00 a.m. today, officers near the David Blaine stunt show became aware of a dispute between a group of friends, a photographer and other members of the public. Following the altercation we've received two counter allegations of common assault. A group of friends allege they were assaulted by a man during an argument. He alleges they assaulted him. Statements were taken at the scene and inquiries continue."
Around 11:00 this morning, while Sir Paul was out walking his dog near his home in St. John's Wood, North London, he told reporters:
"The paparazzi were harassing me as usual. I did f*** all. All I did was get into a car and drive off. That's all I have to say."
Back home in St. John's Wood today Sir Paul issued a statement denying that he had been abusive:
"I was walking along the Embankment. The paparazzi were harassing me as usual. I did f*** all. Reports that this was a fracas...are highly exaggerated. "It was just a boys' night out. It was all a joke."
Later, he appeared outside his house in a jovial mood, striking a playful pose with fist raised. He said to the reporters:
"What's this about a punch-up? It was a boys' night out. I haven't fired Geoff - it was a joke."
Before he jumped into a black Mercedes he asked the reporters:
"Please don't hang about, pregnant wife, thanks a lot."
According to Geoff Baker, who has been Sir Paul's publicist for 14 years, he apologized to Sir Paul this morning for contacting the press. Remorseful, Mr. Baker admitted to Sir Paul that he had tipped off the press about the visit and that he had acted "stupidly".He also mocked his new unemployed status, telling the press, "I'm available for parties... and poledancing."
After speaking to Sir Paul, Mr. Baker was relieved to learn that he still has his job. This is Geoff Baker's version of the event:
"We went for a meal in Soho with some of Paul's roadies and afterwards someone suggested we go to see David Blaine. No one knew Paul was there because it was dark and for some reason, probably known only to my mental hospital, I decided to tell a photographer to come over. Paul didn't want to be pictured and two of his mates said he didn't want any photography. Then Paul got cross with me and told me I was fired. He was incandescent.
"Paul was joking when he said I was fired. I thought he was serious, but he wasn't. We do pull each other's leg but he's never sacked me before. Paul phoned me this morning and he's fine. I don't want to drum this up. It's going to blow it out of all proportion.
"Paul is a great bloke. He's a good laugh and just one of the lads. He's a great guy to work for."
Geoff Baker also issued a statement saying the whole event was a big misunderstanding:
"One of the lads tipped off the press, who were watching a man in a sleeping bag in a box, that Paul was passing. Paul continued to joke by telling his mate, who is his publicist, that he was fired. He then got into a car and went home. Reports this was a fracas or anything other than a group of friends on a night out are heavily exaggerated."
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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