A tearful Heather Mills McCartney broke down live on TV as she compared the way the media treatment of her to that experienced by paedophiles and murderers.

The estranged wife of former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney went on ITV's GMTV this morning and admitted she has been forced close to suicide by the way her reputation has been dragged through the mud.

Lady McCartney is locked in an increasingly bitter divorce battle with the musician, with reports suggesting the eventual financial settlement could be one of the biggest in British legal history.

But the 39-year-old accused the press of singling her out for abuse after the split was announced last May.

"They make up such lies," she said while holding back tears.

"They've called me a whore, a golddigger, a fantasist, a liar, the most unbelievably hurtful things, and I've stayed quiet for my daughter."

She added that she has been "trying to protect Paul and our daughter [three-year-old Beatrice]" but was "being pushed to the edge".

Stating that she had had death threats during the break-up and subsequent media attention, the Hampshire-born former model said that she had been forced to take action.

"I have a box of evidence that's going to a certain person, should anything happen to me, so if you top me off it's still going to that person, and the truth will come out," she said.

The charity campaigner said that the way she had been treated by newspapers and other media had led her to seek action from the European parliament.

"I need to get everybody to petition that they don't want to be lied to any more by the press," she continued in the interview.

"They want their children to grow up in a society where press is just and fair and the size of the lie they print is the size of the apology they have to print."

The McCartneys married in Ireland in June 2002, four years after the death of Sir Paul's first wife Linda from breast cancer.

31/10/2007 13:21:23