Rebekah Brooks and personal assistant Cheryl Carter 'as close as sisters', hacking trial told

The personal assistant to newspaper chief Rebekah Brooks removed boxes of her boss's notebooks from storage at the request of archive staff – not because of secret plans to scupper police investigations into phone hacking, the Old Bailey heard.
 
Cheryl Carter, Brooks's long-time PA, denies one count of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, along with her former boss, ex-News of the World (NotW) editor Brooks.
 
Carter's defence counsel Trevor Burke QC said the charge relates to allegations Carter and Brooks conspired to remove seven boxes held in News International archives as the NotW was on the verge of closure following phone hacking allegations, in July 2011.
 
He said: "The request to remove the seven boxes, so say the prosecution, was prompted by the announcement of the closure of the News of the World.
 
"It's Cheryl Carter's explanation that she was under pressure to remove (notebooks from) the archive facility as it was moving to Enfield."
 
Burke said News International archivist Nick Mays emailed Carter some weeks earlier informing her that action needed to be taken.
 
The defence counsel said Carter denied claims she wanted to destroy the boxes – containing notebooks and keepsakes from Brooks's office during her time at News International, among other items – "to protect her beloved boss", for whom she had spent more than 15 years working.
 
The boxes also included 30 scrapbooks filled with cuttings from Carter's beauty column in The Sun, sister paper of the now-defunct NotW.
 
Outlining Carter's case before she gives evidence from the witness box, Burke described the close relationship between his client and her co-defendant.
 
He said: "They're as close as sisters. They adore each other.
 
"They've been shoulder to shoulder for the last 16 years – she (Carter) will not say a bad word about Rebekah."
 
Burke told the jury to temporarily "park" evidence about phone hacking and payment to public officials, instead focusing on the allegation of conspiracy.
 
Explaining the burden of proof, Burke told the 11 members of the jury: "The prosecution will have to prove that on or before the 8th of July, when Cheryl Carter called to be removed from storage those seven boxes, she did so having agreed with Rebekah Brooks before that she would remove them and destroy them with the intention to pervert the course of justice.
 
"If you come to the view that Cheryl did not discuss the removal of those boxes with her (Brooks), that's the end of it. It's that simple.
 
"If you think Cheryl only 'may' have done it (conspiring), or 'probably' did it – you will have to acquit."
 
Carter's evidence came as former NotW royal editor Clive Goodman was too unwell to continue in the witness box.
 
The judge Mr Justice Saunders told the jury Goodman, 56, had been taken to hospital on Friday and had yet to be seen by his own cardiologist following a heart complaint.
 
Giving evidence from the witness box, Carter described how she was "always on call" working for Brooks – and that instructions were always made by text and email.
 
Carter, coincidentally a school friend of Brooks's former husband and ex-EastEnders actor Ross Kemp, said: "She worked fast, everything had to be done immediately. But I was used to that.
 
"I was tasked by email and text. Then we had a record, even if she was standing next to me.
 
"I just did the task."
 
The 49-year-old, who will turn 50 next month, added: "When I left at the end of the day I had the (office) phone diverted through to my mobile.
 
"I was always on call, all night."
 
Carter said she followed Brooks to The Sun and to News International, and that her job was to "run her (Brooks's) office and her private life".

 

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