Paul McCartney spars with photog near David Blaine's box. Lensman says the ex-Beatle shoved him and cursed at him while viewing the magician's survival stunt

By Gary Susman
Updated September 19, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

David Blaine’s Plexiglas box, where the American magician is in the midst of spending 44 days without food while suspended over the Thames River at London’s Tower Bridge, has been the site of a lot of hooliganism over the past two weeks, most of it directed at Blaine. But the latest incident involved not Blaine but Paul McCartney, who came to watch Blaine and got into a scrap with a newspaper photographer early Friday morning, Reuters reports.

Kevin Wheal, a photographer for London’s Evening Standard, said he approached the rocker’s posse around 1 a.m. ”Then his friends — who seemed more like minders to me — grabbed hold of me and pushed my camera towards the ground,” Wheal said. He said the 61-year-old rocker shoved his chest, cursed at him, and said, ”It’s a private visit.”

Of course, Blaine is suspended in a very public place, and as it turns out, McCartney’s own longtime publicist, Geoff Baker, tipped off the press to McCartney’s visit. On Friday, Baker issued a statement downplaying the incident, saying that McCartney had jokingly fired him, and that no punches were thrown at the scene. Nonetheless, Scotland Yard told the BBC it was investigating two competing claims of ”common assault.”

Blaine has been boxed in for two weeks of a planned 44-day starvation stand. Britons have been able to watch him 24 hours a day on Sky TV, which purchased the broadcast rights to the stunt. Plenty of locals have visited the site in order to taunt Blaine or disrupt his stunt. Women have flashed him, men have mooned him, golfers have driven balls at him, and egg-throwers have pelted him. One man was arrested this week for allegedly climbing the scaffold and trying to cut the pipe that supplies Blaine’s water. One especially creative person flew a remote-controlled toy helicopter bearing a cheeseburger and dangled the sandwich in Blaine’s face. And you thought the French were rude.