Heather Mills-McCartney raised the stakes in her divorce from Paul McCartney today by hiring the solicitor of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Anthony Julius, a senior partner at London law firm Mishcon de Reya, will represent Lady McCartney as she negotiates a settlement with her husband of four years.
The solicitor will face Fiona Shackleton, of Payne Hicks Beach, who represented the Prince of Wales in the Royal divorce 10 years ago.
Mr Julius, dubbed Anthony Genius by colleagues, reportedly won a £17 million deal for the Princess in 1996.
It is understood that his work with the Princess was the solicitor-advocate’s only other divorce case.
Mr Julius specialises in media law and has represented a string of high-profile clients including newspaper proprietor Robert Maxwell.
After the death of the Princess he chaired the memorial trust set up in her name, but controversy erupted over legal fees – some £500,000 – charged by his firm.
The two legal teams will be battling over Sir Paul’s fortune, which is believed to be more than £800 million.
It has been reported that Lady McCartney could receive as much as £200 million.
The news came as a source close to Sir Paul dismissed stories that he had deliberately locked his wife out of his London home as “rubbish”.
The source said Lady McCartney’s struggle to enter the multi-million-pound property were caused by “a simple misunderstanding”.
Police were called to the home of the ex-Beatle after a person – reported to be his estranged wife Heather’s security guard – was found on the premises.
Lady McCartney and the couple’s daughter Beatrice were understood to have been shut out of the house in St John’s Wood, north-west London, after the locks were changed.
When she arrived she could not get in and after her driver tried the intercom and got no answer her security guard scaled the wall.
Fearing he might be an intruder, members of Sir Paul’s staff called the police and officers went to the address. Lady McCartney was finally let in.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called at approximately 7.50pm yesterday to an address in NW8 to reports of a suspect on the premises.
“Officers attended and spoke to a female who subsequently left the scene. No offences took place.”
Last month it was confirmed that Sir Paul had begun formal divorce proceedings and it was reported that he cited his wife’s “unreasonable behaviour” in the documents.
When the couple revealed they would split in May they had insisted their separation would be amicable.
But they admitted that doing so under media scrutiny and with a two-year-old child would be “immensely stressful”.
Lady McCartney has revealed in the past that Sir Paul turned down her offer of a prenuptial agreement that could have limited any claim to his fortune.
Sir Paul has strongly denied that the animal rights campaigner and former model married him for his money.
In a statement released in May, he said there was “not an ounce of truth in this” and that some media reports were just “plain untrue”.
The couple met at a charity event in 1999, a year after Sir Paul’s wife of 29 years, Linda, died from cancer.
In 2001 they became engaged while on a short break in the Lake District and they wed the next year at a remote countryside castle in Ireland.
Sir Paul already has three children from his marriage to Linda – musician James, photographer Mary, and fashion designer Stella.
He also has a stepdaughter, Heather, from Linda’s first marriage.