Day 36: The jury yesterday heard that Rebekah Brooks has got a personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, a job at a newspaper in Australia owned by Rupert Murdoch. Mrs Carter had been due to up a secretarial job at the Sunday Times in Perth when she was arrested in January 2012 on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
In an interview with police after she was arrested at dawn, she denied that she had been helped to get the job as a reward for helping Mrs Brooks conceal evidence from detectives investigating phone hacking at the NoTW.
The notebooks – which have never been found after they were withdrawn from NI’s archives on 8 July 2011 – are at the centre of the Crown’s claim that Mrs Brooks and Mrs Brooks conspired to pervert the course of justice.
During her third interview with officers from Operation Weeting on 6 January 2012, Mrs Carter was asked: “Is it fair to say that when we last spoke you said that Rebekah Brooks helped you get that job in that newspaper?” She replied: “Yep. She spoke to John Hart again, who is in charge of some of the Australia papers. I do not know what she said but when I went there, they said ‘look you know, you can start as a general secretary, if you want’.”
She denied that there was anything suspicious about the removal of the boxes, which she told the archivist contained mostly her own, rather than Mrs Brooks’s, notebooks. The boxes had been archived in 2009 as: “All notebooks from Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade) 1995-2007.”
Detective Sergeant John Massey asked her: “You did not think that taking possession of seven boxes marked up as Rebekah Brooks the day after the paper had announced that it was closing, and then getting rid of them, was something that would put you in a very difficult position?” Mrs Carter, who was Mrs Brooks’s PA for 16 years, replied: “No, because I knew that they were mine, so I knew that I was going to return anything, which I did, that was hers.”
Det Sgt Massey continued: “OK. So, the inference that you were doing it on behalf of your employer, to remove or destroy material that could implicate her or could be of use to the police… there is no substance to that. Is that what you are saying?” Mrs Carter replied: “No, because… because I, like I say, I knew what was in those boxes.”
Det Sgt Massey returned to the issue of the job in Australia, which Mrs Carter said would have been a junior role with a salary of £30,000. He asked Mrs Carter: “The subsequent decision by yourself and your family to move to Australia, with some employment, initiated and assisted in some way by Rebekah Brooks of News International… there is nothing suspicious in that?” “Absolutely,” she replied. “I don’t really want to work for the paper, I need a job, I have lost my livelihood…”
The prosecution then called Susan Panuccio, who between 2008 and 2010 was the Chief Financial Officer of News International in the United Kingdom. She gave evidence that the role of the Managing Editor, Stuart Kuttner, was to look after budgets, administration and HR matters. She said that the responsibility for ensuring that payments were not illegal belonged to journalists, managing editor and editor.
Cross-examined by Jonathan Laidlaw QC for Rebekah Brooks, Ms Panuccio said that she was inexperienced in many of the aspects of the role as Chief Executive. She said that she had not heard of Glenn Mulcaire and agreed that it was possible that, if broken down into weekly payments, his £105,000 a year would not show up on the system. The Judge put to this witness an interesting question raised by the jury
“How many internal audits were carried out during the time Mulcaire was under contract with the News of the World?”
Ms Panuccio replied that she was unsure as it would depend on what process the audit was looking at and said that this was outside the sphere of her immediate knowledge.
In the afternoon, the Court heard evidence from Gary Keegan, the husband of Rebekah Brooks’ other PA, Deborah Keegan. He had helped out moving the boxes on 8 July 2011. Deborah Keegan then gave evidence. She said that Rebekah Brooks’ PAs “effectively ran her life“, dealing with banking, her mother, her husband’s banking, her cars, her mortgage.
In the course of her cross-examination Mrs Keegan was shown an email to her from Rebekah Brooks asking for 2002-2003 diaries. Mrs Keegan said that this was in relation press stories about Milly Dowler. Rebekah Brooks was trying to establish if she was in the country at the time. Mrs Keegan told the court that Rebekah Brooks was “very upset” at the Dowler story and gave no impression that she was responsible for it.
Cheryl Carter and Rebekah Brooks deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The trial continues.
Other Trial reports
James Doleman, “Phone-hacking trial: Rebekah Brooks was ‘inexperienced’ in many aspects of News International CEO role” and ”Phone-hacking trial: Brooks was ‘very upset’ at the Dowler story, says one of her former PAs“
#pressform has a full collection of links and tweets for “Phone Hacking Trial – Day 36“