The prosecution read a short extract from Mrs Brooks’s draft autobiography lavishing praise on Mrs Carter’s talents, and joking that anyone trying to steal them would face retribution.
Mrs Carter and Mrs Brooks, for whom she worked for 16 years, are on trial at the Old Bailey charged with conspiring with each other to hide Mrs Brooks’s notebooks from detectives investigating phone hacking.
Mrs Carter told the court that Mrs Brooks knew nothing about a request made by Mrs Carter on 8 July 2011 to remove seven boxes labelled as Mrs Brooks’s notebooks from News International’s archive.
She explained that she would not have troubled Mrs Brooks with the request because the boxes contained mostly her own beauty cuttings, rather than Mrs Brooks’s notebooks, and that the then chief executive of News International was busy dealing with staff in the week that the hacking of schoolgirl Milly Dowler emerged.
Suggesting the paid had a very close working relationship, chief prosecutor Andrew Edis QC quoted from Mrs Brooks’s draft autobiography, in which she wrote:
“Cheryl is one of my biggest assets… She doesn’t just remember voices or names, but she probably remembers the name of their partner or dog. She has an incredible ear.”
Mrs Brooks, joking that she would threaten retribution against those who wanted to headhunt her PA, writing: “Everyone I know is trying to poach her.”
Mr Edis reminded the jury that in her evidence Mrs Brooks had said that Mrs Carter was scatty and once told Rupert Murdoch that she was attending a meeting at MFI rather than MI5, where she actually was. Mr Edis said: “It’s not something that really happened, is it?”, to which Mrs Carter said it had happened, telling the court: “I am a bit scatty at times.”
Challenged whether she could really have dealt with powerful people such as Mr Murdoch if she had made that kind of mistake, Mrs Carter replied: “When I don’t make the mistakes, I’m a really good PA.”
Mr Edis countered: “And you wouldn’t have done anything with those boxes without her instruction.”
She replied: “It was my stuff in those boxes.”
Mrs Carter’s evidence finished at lunchtime and the jurors were sent home.
At the start of the session, Judge John Saunders told them that Clive Goodman – the News of the World’s former royal editor, who fell ill while giving evidence last week – was still too ill to continue for the meantime.
He told them that as a result a new defendant was likely to begin giving evidence tomorrow.
Mrs Carter, who took voluntary redundancy from News International in July 2011, and Mrs Brooks, who resigned that month, deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Goodman, whom the judge hoped could continue his evidence at some stage, denies conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.