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Phone-hacking trial: The boxes, the portrait and the helpful son

The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the prime minister's former director of communications Andy Coulson and six others began at the Old Bailey on 28 October. The Drum will be in court for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least four months, and will provide comprehensive updates on this blog.

The trial is scheduled to examine seven counts that include conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Coverage will be provided by James Doleman, who was acclaimed for his exhaustive and responsible reporting of the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

When court resumed this morning Trevor Burke QC, for Cheryl Carter, continued his cross-examination of Nicholas Mays, an archivist for News International (for the first part of his testimony see here)

The defence counsel opened proceedings by asking the witness if Cheryl Carter had collected anything other than the seven boxes of notebooks on 8 July 2011. The witness confirmed she had not. Burke also confirmed he had emailed Carter about a trolley used to transport the boxes as he could not locate it.

Burke told the court that Rebekah Brooks had resigned as CEO of News International on 15 July and showed the witness an email sent by her to all staff announcing she was leaving the company. In the email Brooks stated that: "The reputation of the company we all love so much is at risk," adding her gratitude to Rupert Murdoch for his "wisdom, kindness and sage advice" and her happy memories of "working for a great company". She then confirmed her resignation. A statement from James Murdoch from the same day was then read, in which he called Brooks "one of the greatest editors of her generation" and announced the withdrawal of News International's bid for full control of BskyB and the setting up of a standards committee.

The barrister then showed the witness an email he had sent Cheryl Carter after the announcement asking if she wished to retrieve Brooks' property from the archive. The witness confirmed he had arranged the delivery of a number of "framed items" but had not managed to arrange it for that day. Burke suggested the witness's recollection was in error and some items had been returned that day. Mays told the court that was not his recollection.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for Rebekah Brooks, then rose to question the witness. The barrister questioned Mays about what items would have to be archived. Mays agreed that documentation required for accounting or historical purposes would be kept, for example memoranda, corporate communications, advertising posters and correspondence. Laidlaw suggested that the archive was not for employees to store their personal effects, the witness replied "formally that is correct" adding that this had happened in this case due to an office move but was "more the exception than the rule". Mays also confirmed the archive held data from five titles; the News of the World, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Sun and the Times Literary Supplement. The archivist said he did not monitor the quality of what was stored but there were guidelines to avoid "extraneous use of storage space".

Laidlaw put it to the witness that in the 22 years Brooks had worked at News International she had never personally added anything to the archive. Laidlaw then sketched out Brooks' career, from researcher to features writer, then the editor of the News of the World, editor of the Sun and chief executive officer. The archivist confirmed that in all this time Brooks had had never "personally" added anything to the archive although her staff had.

The witness, the court was told, had made five separate witness statements and Laidlaw had the jury shown one of these, from March 2012. In this statement Mays confirmed that one of Brooks personal assistants, Deborah Keegan, had deposited records in the archive. These, the witness confirmed, were still there and there had never been a request to remove them. The seven boxes of notebooks, which had later been removed, had been deposited in September 2009 when Brooks was promoted from Sun editor to CEO and was moved into a smaller office. The witness stated he did not know about the size of offices and Laidlaw told the court that an office previously occupied by Rupert Murdoch had been split in two.

Laidlaw told the jury that his client's position was that she had nothing whatsoever to do with sending the seven boxes to the archive or with their later withdrawal from it and had not been consulted over either decision. Mays told the court he had no knowledge of that and Judge Saunders advised him not to speculate. The archivist also told the court he had not examined the content of the boxes in detail other than to check they contained notebooks.

Asked about the personal property held by him for Brooks, the witness told the court it he recalled a framed "Help for Heroes medal" and a large Sun logo board with personal messages on it. Mays told the court this was a temporary measure and he had been keen for Brooks to remove the property from his archive. Laidlaw than thanked the witness and sat down.

Mark Bryant-Heron for the prosecution then rose to re-examine the archivist. He asked the witness to look again at the email traffic between him and Carter and asked if he knew her socially. Mays replied that he had no social contact with Carter at all and had professionally very little contact.

Justice Saunders then told the court he'd had "some computer problems yesterday" and "my note taking may not have been up to standard". He asked Mays to clarify the issue of the "JRM portrait". Mays told the judge this was a portrait of James Murdoch which Brooks had in her office before being stored in the archive. Saunders then asked about the purchase of "the Times silver" by Charlie Brooks which Mays had provided to him and then emailed Cheryl Carter to secure payment for by cheque. The witness confirmed that was correct and that the payment had been delayed by Rebekah Brooks' PA, Cheryl Carter, by contacting a person at News International who had just retired. Asked about his note "return Rebekah's notebooks", Mays confirmed he made it either during, or immediately after, his telephone call with Carter on 8 July. Mays then left the stand.

The next witness called to court was Eamon Dyas, the News International archivist who preceded previous witness Nicholas Mays. Dyas told the jury he had retired in 2008 but did consultancy work for the company after that date, doing various projects including retrieving Sunday Times articles in relations to a legal action over Thalidomide claims in Australia. Dyas' last piece of work for News International was in May 2011.

Mark Bryant-Heron went over with the the process undertaken when items were added to the archive and confirmed that a "transfer list" showed when and by whom each set of documents was deposited. The court was then shown the section of the transfer list from September 2009 which, he confirmed, showed the deposit of seven boxes of documents by Cheryl Carter marked "notebooks Rebekah Brooks/Wade". Dyas told the court he had no recollection of receiving this particular deposit. The former archivist was also shown an email from Cheryl Carter from 4 July 2011 to him about a cheque from Charlie Brooks. Dyas confirmed he had already left the company and did not see the email.

Trevor Burke QC, defending Carter, then rose to cross-examine the witness and asked him to confirm his retirement date and what his duties were after then. Dyas said he had no recollection of receiving notebooks from Carter and when it was suggested that previous witness Nicholas Mays had said he had filled in the form, Dyas responded: "Perhaps his memory is better than mine."

The witness told the court that due to his retirement he was legally disqualified from dealing with current documents and therefore would not have added these documents to the transfer list. Asked if he knew who had, Dyas said there was nothing on the form to identify who had filled it in. Burke put it to the witness that documents would only be returned to the submitter if they were personal property that were not business related. Dyas responded: "I would imagine so."

Jonathan Laidlaw, for Rebekah Brooks, then cross-examined the witness. He asked Dyas about his contact with his client over his 20 years at News International, the witness said it was "minimal" and consisted of perhaps two informal meetings over his whole career. Dyas confirmed that his department were the "custodians not the owners" of anything deposited there and that departments could always request for documents to return.

Mr Justice Saunders then asked the witness to clarify who could withdraw documents from the archive. Dyas told the court it was "very rare" for departments to ask for documents back but they had the ability to. Dyas then left the stand.

The next witness was Nicholas Carter. After being sworn in, Carter told the court that he had been with his mother, Cheryl Carter, at News International's HQ were he worked as an admin assistant. The witness told the court his mother had called him to help move some boxes so he had gone to her desk in a different part of the building. Cheryl Carter was with a News International driver, Gary Keegan. The group, the witness told the jury, then went to the archive office, collected the boxes and loaded them into his car. After he had finished work for the day he took the boxes back to his mother's house. The witness told the court he did not know what was in the boxes and had no further conversations about them.

Trevor Burke QC, for Cheryl Carter, then rose to cross-examine the witness, he confirmed that he was "close to his mother" and still lived with her. When asked, Nicholas Carter confirmed that his mother wrote a "beauty column" for the News of the World and often received samples of make-up from manufacturers that Nicholas would take home for her. The witness agreed that there was therefore nothing unusual about receiving a request to take items home for his mother or for other members of staff.

Burke then told the court that he was about to discuss the Carter family's proposed move to Australia, which he said was relevant as it related to police suggestions that Carter had been "rewarded" by News International by being given a job there. The witness was shown a document from an immigration adviser saying that the family had been granted a residence visa for Australia in 2007 which gave them five years to emigrate. In 2011, after the News of the World closed, the court was told that the family had decided to make the move, flying out in January 2012. They had already arranged for their furniture to be shipped out. However, before they could fly out, Burke told the court, Cheryl Carter was arrested and her passport seized. The family, Christopher told the court, had moved to Perth, but as their mother could not join them they had reluctantly returned to the UK. Burke put it to the witness that the plan to emigrate long preceded the incident with the boxes. Christopher Carter agreed this was correct.

The court then rose for lunch.

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