| LONDON, March 25
LONDON, March 25 Rebekah Brooks's former
personal assistant denied on Tuesday that her "beloved boss" had
paid for flights for her and her family to Australia as a reward
for disposing of evidence that might incriminate the ex-News
Corp. executive over phone-hacking.
Prosecutors say Cheryl Carter, 49, removed seven boxes of
notebooks belonging to Brooks, who ran Rupert Murdoch's British
newspaper arm News International, and destroyed them as
a phone-hacking scandal engulfed the company in July 2011.
Brooks and Carter are on trial accused of conspiracy to
pervert the course of justice while Brooks also faces charges of
conspiracy to illegally intercept voicemails on mobile phones
and authorising illegal payments to public officials.
They and five others on trial deny all charges.
Carter's lawyer Trevor Burke told London's Old Bailey court
that Brooks and her PA were "like sisters" having worked
together for years as Brooks rose to become editor of the Sun
and News of the World titles and then News International's CEO.
"They adored each other. They had been shoulder to shoulder
for 16 years," Burke told the jury. "You can cross-examine
Cheryl Carter for three weeks if you like and she will not say a
bad word about Rebekah Brooks."
Burke told the jury the two co-accused "stand or fall
together". "If you convict one, you are obliged to convict the
other," he said.
On July 8, 2011, the day after it was announced that the
News of the World would close amid revelations its journalists
had hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl, Carter withdrew
seven boxes from the company archives that were marked as
containing Brooks's notebooks from 1995 to 2007.
The boxes were withdrawn on the same day her request to do
so was submitted to the archivist but Burke told the court she
had not put him under pressure to "protect her beloved boss".
The reason to remove them was "absolutely not" to do with
the paper's closure, but because she said she believed they
needed to withdraw material from the archive before it was moved
to a new location.
Carter, who wrote a weekly article about beauty for the Sun,
told the court that the boxes held few of Brooks's possessions
and mainly contained scrapbooks with cuttings of her Sun
articles and other magazine beauty features, as well as course
work for her college studies on the subject.
The court heard Carter received a 17,000 pound pay rise,
taking her salary to 66,000 pounds ($108,900) a year, when she
followed Brooks to her new CEO position, even though she had no
formal secretarial training and did not use shorthand.
She also received 7,000 pounds for her weekly Sun articles,
although she told the court she did not want a lot of money
because she felt "privileged" to be writing for the paper.
Carter also told the court her family had planned to
emigrate to Australia but she had kept this from Brooks until
they had both left the company at the end of July 2011.
After she broke the news, Brooks agreed to pay the cost of
the flights. Asked by Burke if this was a reward for disposing
of the boxes, she said: "I can say that it wasn't. She just
wanted to thank me for 16 or 17 years I worked for her."
The trial continues.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)