Mrs Carter is accused of removing seven boxes marked “Rebekah Brooks’ notebooks” from News International’s archive on Friday 8 July 2011, a day before the closure of the News of the World.
The court heard Mrs Carter’s son, Nick, a messenger at News International, drove home the boxes from Wapping and put them on the landing of the family home in Billericay, Essex.
Delivering his closing speech, Trevor Burke QC, told the phone hacking trial that the boxes contained notes and cuttings about Mrs Carter’s beauty business, rather than Mrs Brooks’ notes. “Cheryl Carter would have suffered a thousand deaths rather than have her son have a 1 per cent of being questioned by the police,” Mr Burke said.
“She was no more concerned Nick taking her beauty products home than she was him taking home those boxes.”
He said that his client’s occasional absence from the dock in recent weeks had been due to “mild panic attacks”.
Describing Mrs Carter as straight forward, he told the jury:
“Many will think what you saw was what you got: a bright, breezy, optimistic woman: a bit talkative perhaps, but unfailingly polite. She’s a but scatty perhaps, but many would find that to be an endearing quality.”
He reminded the court of Mrs Carter’s recollection of having once confused the furniture chain MFI with the security service MI5 – and of inviting “the wrong Miliband brother” to lunch with Mrs Brooks.
He told the court that the prosecution’s suggestion that those anecdotes were “rehearsed or fabricated” was itself wrong.
Turning to the events of 8 July, Mr Burke said that Mrs Carter had not written the label on the boxes in NI’s archives – and the two archivists could not be sure who had.
In any case, the QC added, by then more than 30 boxes from Mrs Brooks or her office had been deposited with NI’s archive since 2002.
If there had been a conspiracy between Mrs Brooks and Mrs Carter, why hadn’t they removed all of the boxes, he asked.
He rejected the Crown’s claim that the boxes had been withdrawn on 8 July because Mrs Brooks was becoming fearful that she would be arrested and wanted to hide evidence.
Mrs Carter had chosen that afternoon, he said, because Mrs Brooks had been addressing News of the World staff on its closure, meaning Mrs Carter was not required to be by her side.
“She was in no rush to get the boxes back, and certainly did not request same-day delivery,” he said.
Although Mrs Carter and Mrs Brooks were “best pals”, they were “not that close,” he added.
He urged any “timid” juror sympathetic to Mrs Carter’s case to speak up for her during the jury’s deliberations, which are due to begin next week.
The court will hear closing speeches for Charlie Brooks, Mrs Brooks’ husband, and Mark Hanna, News International’s director of security tomorrow.
The seven defendants in the case deny all charges.