By Rav Singh & James Desborough
HEATHER Mills has sensationally backed down in her bitter divorce battle with Paul McCartney — and is set to accept a £29 million cash and property settlement.
Sources close to Macca's camp told the News of the World: "It's amazing how quickly things have turned around. Heather has caved in on lots of things — including the money demands and sole custody of daughter Beatrice — and we now expect her to settle."
News of the planned settlement — which works out at £696 an hour for their 1,735 days of marriage so far — comes after a fortnight of blazing rows between the couple.
They have silently faced each other at the High Court three times for opening hearings over the divorce. But in private they have been letting fly.
After one session furious Macca ranted at Heather down the phone:
"I just can't wait until I never have to see your face again!"
But she blasted back: "You'll never get rid of me!"
And in another vicious screaming match about one-legged Heather appearing in US prime time show Dancing With The Stars, Sir Paul labelled the move "tacky".
He rubbished the idea and predicted she will become a "reality TV freak like Anna Nicole Smith".
A close friend of Heather insisted that a settlement deal wouldn't buy her silence about claims Paul had been violent towards her.
Heather — dubbed Mucca because of her porn and vice past — has repeatedly told her pal: "I will NOT sign a gagging clause because I want people to know the truth."
But an end to the bitter court battle is in sight after the warring couple — who wed in June 2002 — finally came close to agreement over the key issue of joint child custody.
The Beatles legend had been desperate to secure his share of control over three-year-old Beatrice.
And we can reveal Heather, 39, is expected to drop her outrageous demand for £3.4 million a year (£10,000 a day) just "to get by". Instead it is believed she will accept the scaled-down pay-off.
Included in the deal is one of Macca's homes — likely to be his £4 million luxury Georgian house in St John's Wood, London.
A source close to Sir Paul said: "Heather's completely changed her stance. Only recently Paul's team were worried she might have upped the stakes by threatening to leave England, taking Beatrice with her.
"It didn't happen but it would have driven Paul to the brink. He doesn't care where Heather ends up but he is devoted to caring for Beatrice and couldn't bear the thought of not being able to see her.
"Being realistic it could still take weeks to finally thrash out a deal but they're on the right path and now they're talking the same language. And if negotiations keep going this well it could be even sooner."
The new deal saves 64-year-old Macca a fortune on the £32 million settlement first offered in January and exclusively revealed by the News of the World. Under that proposal Heather would have walked away with TWO houses.
Last week Paul gave a V for victory sign as he left the court.
Now the settlement will be thrashed out by lawyers Anthony Julius and Fiona Shackleton, who arranged the deal between Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Our source said: "It seems Heather has been stung by the outrage over her cash demands. She thought she was entitled to that much but realises the longer this battle goes on the worse she'll come out of it.
"She's ready now to make a compromise. There's been a great deal of horse-trading between the lawyers.
"Sir Paul will be delighted. All he ever wanted was for this to be settled so he can get on with his life."
But Heather's camp insisted there were other motives behind the new moves — and they centre on the leaked divorce papers that reveal she had accused Macca of humiliating and physically abusing her.
The claims included allegations that Paul poured wine over her, stabbed her arm with a broken glass, shoved her violently into a bath when she was pregnant and pushed her over a coffee table.
A friend said: "He won't let it go to court, that's for sure. Heather has independent witnesses to support her claims, medical evidence and tapes in which he states his intentions very clearly. Why would Paul want that discussed in court and have to live with that stigma for the rest of his life?
"Maybe it's getting closer to a settlement but what's clear is there's a very nasty and evil campaign going on here.
"What McCartney has done is categorically deny the wife-beating, saying it's disgraceful and disgusting, then settle so she won't have a chance to show the evidence to back up what she said.
"I know that Paul's worn her down and she got completely fed up with the whole thing. But he'll never keep her quiet."
On Friday Heather was spotted enjoying drinks at a Brighton pub then dinner at a restaurant with her American make-up artist friend Mark Payne, also pictured with her at court on Tuesday.
Now it's clear that she had plenty to celebrate.
On top of the £29 million deal, legal sources said Paul had failed in an attempt to have Heather's divorce petition citing those accusations of physical abuse thrown out of court.
And she won a larger-than-expected interim annual maintenance payment.
Plus Macca has agreed to pay a lump sum — thought to be as much as £2 million — for her security needs during the divorce procedings. Heather also clinched her right to take Beatrice to Los Angeles to be with her next week as she competes in the dance show.
Her friend stressed: "Heather has NO plans to move to America because she, her friends and family are in England. And there'll be NO custody battle as she and Paul both want Bea to be happy. Heather wants to do this show because it will take her mind off the divorce battle.
"And she wants to take Bea along not as a publicity stunt, as critics claim, but simply because she's a caring mum.
"The deal is she will take Bea out for a couple of weeks during her Easter holiday and then Paul will look after her.
"In the past Heather's been distraught about the backlash she's received over the divorce case. She's been phoning me in tears.
"But she has really enjoyed doing the show and now sounds very upbeat."