Rebekah's PA denied Australian job offer was 'payment' for phone-hacking cover up, court told

A personal assistant to former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has denied being offered a job in Australia as a payment "in kind" for attempting to cover up evidence of phone hacking.

In an interview with police, recalled before the phone-hacking trial at the Old Bailey, Cheryl Carter denied on her children's lives that she destroyed evidence which may have helped the police case against Brooks and others.

The court previously heard that her family had been considering emigrating to Australia, with Carter – who wrote a beauty column for The Sun – being offered work on the Perth Times, which was also owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In her police interview, Carter was asked: "That (the job offer) is not a payment in kind for you, having got rid of some property that might have helped the police investigation?"

Carter replied: "Absolutely not. 100 percent. That's not what I'm about."

Former News of the World and Sun editor Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Carter, 49, of Chelmsford, Essex, deny a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, by removing potential evidence which could have been inspected by police.

Yesterday the court heard that Carter threw out and recycled around 30 archived notebooks, hours before it was announced the News of the World was to close.

Carter insisted the notebooks she threw away, in July 2011 as the tabloid prepared for its farewell edition, were hers and anything belonging to her boss was returned to the office.

The court also heard – from Carter's lawyer Trevor Burke QC – that the family had been planning to emigrate to Australia. Carter was unable to join the rest of her family after she was arrested.

Her son, Nick Carter, said yesterday that the whole family began considering a move in the early 2000s and were granted a visa in February 2007, years before the boxes were removed.

Before deciding to move there, his parents made one final trip, when Carter had an interview with the Perth Times.

But in January 2012, the family were forced to leave her behind because she had been arrested, hoping she would be able to join them later. Their plans changed after she was charged and she became unwell, the court heard.

The trial has already heard that boxes Carter retrieved included several notebooks from her work as a beauty editor, as well as some of Brooks's diaries and notepads.

Asked by police if it ever crossed her mind there was anything suspicious or criminal in removing the boxes from the archives marked as being Brooks's notebooks, Carter told police: "I know that they were mine and I knew that I was going to return anything that was hers (Brooks).

"In my mind I did not think I was doing anything wrong."

On the job in Australia, she added: "I don't really want to work for the paper. I need a job.

"I have lost my livelihood. I want to do my make-up there. Rebekah hasn't put in a word for me other than I'm a hard-working person."

She said the new position was worth around £30,000 a year – half her salary as Brooks's personal assistant.

All of the defendants deny all of the charges.

The trial continues.

 

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