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PM-Britain-McCartney 02-14 0377

McCartney: Tabloid Story About
Contract To Have Him Killed Is Untrue

LONDON (AP) - Paul McCartney says a story in a London tabloid about a underworld contract to have him killed isn't true.

But the explanation by McCartney, whose fellow Beatle John Lennon was slain by a gunman in New York in 1980, of the real story behind the story in The Sun today was almost as odd.

The Sun quoted unidentified detectives as saying a hitman had been hired for 100,000 pounds ($153,000) to kill him.

The Sun said two robbers who became police informers told detectives they had been with a gangster sizing up a London jewelry store for a heist when McCartney walked from the store.

The gangster told the others he had been hired to kill McCartney, the paper said. It quoted an unidentified police source as saying: ``The man said he would be paid a lot of money and urged the others to do it with him there and then. But they wouldn't.''

The informers named the gangster as a man now in police custody awaiting trial on robbery charges, it said. The paper said detectives planned to question him about the ``death plot.''

The Sun quoted the source as saying: ``We can think of no conceivable reason why anybody would want him killed. However, we are taking this information very seriously because the man who was hired to do the job is quite capable of carrying it out...

``According to the informants, the hit was ordered about two years ago. But in the meantime the man being paid to do it was arrested on another matter.'' The Sun did not specify when it was all supposed to have happened.

McCartney's version of the story, via an unidentified spokesman quoted by the British news agency Press Association, was that the rock star happened to be walking down a street where two men were plotting to rob a store at gunpoint. One asked him for his autograph first, before staging the robbery.

The starstruck criminal later boasted to police how he had managed to get the autograph.

But somehow the story snowballed into a report that a hitman was hired to kill the ex-Beatle and tried to involve the two robbers in the plot, the spokesman was quoted as saying.

The Beatles foursome broke up in 1970.

APTV-02-14-96 0250PST

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