Rebekah Brooks' former PA Cheryl Carter: Brooks was a "good and fair boss to me"

By James Doleman |

January 7, 2014 | 10 min read

Court resumed after lunch to hear more evidence on count six of the indictment, a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against Rebekah Brooks and her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter.

Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson

As the next two witnesses due to be called are ill, the jury instead heard from a police officer attached to the operation Weeting, DS John Massey. The policeman showed the jury a statement made by Carter when her house was searched by police on the 25 November 2012.

In the statement Carter told the police she had picked up seven boxes of documents from the News International archives as well as some framed pictures. Carter then stated that most of the contents of the boxes belonged to her and the rest she had "binned". The statement was not made under caution.

A further statement from Carter, this taken under caution, was then read to the court. In this transcript Carter says she was asked by the archivist at News International to remove the boxes as the department was "downsizing". In July, while Brooks was away at a "boot camp holiday", Carter stated she then had time to get the boxes. She called her son and Brooks' driver Gary and they went to the archive to pick them up. When she returned home she found the boxes and a week later went through them. These, the statement said, consisted of notebooks and cuttings that belonged to her; the few that belonged to Brooks she returned to the office. "If it was my writing I threw it out, if it was Rebekah's I returned it."

The jury was then played a tape of a police interview with Carter made in January 2012, after she had been arrested and interviewed under caution in the presence of her solicitor. The interview opens with Carter being informed of her rights, including that she can stop the interview at any time and remain silent if she wishes. She is then read the details of the charge, perverting the course of justice.

DS Massey then tells Carter her account of events given in November "significantly differs" from that given by other witnesses. Carter again states that the archive department had contacted her as they were "downsizing" and they had to remove boxes they had stored there. This was a problem as her department was moving to a "paperless office" and that she had used a week when Brooks was away at "boot camp" to pick up the papers with her son. She had taken the papers home to "look at them at my leisure" as she "knew most of the contents were mine". On looking through there were three of Brooks' notebooks and a diary which she took back to the office. The majority of the rest of the contents were notes from a course she had undertaken and notes for a "beauty column" she wrote for the News of the World.

Carter then stated that when police arrived to seal off Brooks' office as part of their investigation all of the relevant documents were in filing cabinets in the office but "they never looked at them". Asked where that material was now, Carter stated "Rebekah's got it", it was "in her barn" after being stored briefly at her mother in law's house. This material, Carter said, was "personal stuff, bank statements, gas bills and that sort of thing" and "nothing to do with the paper".

Carter was then asked if she thought it was strange that the archivist was asking her to remove documents. She replied that no one had said specifically what the material was but she "knew it was old pads" either belonging to her or Brooks. Carter also said that there were some pictures and "definitely a football shirt of some sort". On archive material Carter said it was not considered important stating "any old shit you had you stuffed it down there".

The court then took a short break.

When the jury returned they heard a second interview with Carter again under caution and in the presence of her solicitor. The interview begins with DS Massey dealing with allegations that Carter's arrest has been leaked to the BBC. He confirms Essex police have released her name. Her solicitor, Mr Byrne, called this "outrageous" but Massey responded "she is only upset because you brought it up". The police then went over Carter's story again which her solicitor Byrne complained was "complete repetition". DS Massey explained that this "helps us to work out if you are telling the truth".

Carter was then asked again why she had used her son to pick up the boxes. She replied that when she was with the Sun there were editorial assistants who would carry messages etc but now that she was in "corporate land" (Brooks having moved from being editor of the Sun to CEO of News International) she would only be given help from the facilities department for "heavy lifting".

Carter was then asked about her duties for Brooks and told the police that as well as the office work she would visit her home in Oxford four to five times a year to take care of issues around running the household. She also told police that she and her husband had taken a van load of Brooks' personal possessions from the office to her home after her resignation.

Carter then asked, "Am I allowed to say something" and when told yes said, "At no point did anyone say don't do this, don't remove files or anything, it was only when Rebekah left the company did they say don't shred anything. For my part I don't think I did anything wrong except remove my own files, and I don't know why I'm sitting here today."

The jury then heard the recording move on to DS Massey asking Carter if there were any other diaries there when she took the desk diary back to the office. Carter said all eight years' worth were present in a filing cabinet at News International headquarters in her own "pod". The defendant was then asked about her dealings with the archive to which she responded, "I didn't even know where it was in the building". The police then asked why Carter had told the archive that the contents of the archived material was hers not Brooks'. Carter replied she didn't know and at the point her solicitor intervened saying, "perhaps it's because she is naturally talkative, as you will have noticed today". The solicitor also asked if the police would tell his client where her story disagreed with archivist Nick Mays'. DS Massey said "not yet."

The tape went on to the police asking Carter about her relationship with Brooks. Crater said she was a "good and fair boss to me, helped me with my beauty, very good as a person to my children". Asked to explain, the jury heard the defendant on tape becoming emotional about Brooks getting her son a job to help her family out. The tape then ended.

The court then stopped listening to the actual tape. Instead detective Massey in the stand read out his questions from the transcript with Mark Bryant-Heron QC reading out Carter's answers. The questioning moved on to the details of Carter's duties as a personal assistant during which she told the police that she had no input editorially and never sat in meetings with journalistic staff. Carter also gave details about the beauty column she wrote for eight years. Carter again praised Brooks for giving her the chance to write the articles and also for raising her salary to £66,000 per annum. Asked why she left News International, Carter told the court that the company offered to keep her on but she had chosen to accept redundancy so she could emigrate to Australia. Carter then added, "you know the Milly Dowler stuff, she wouldn't have done that, I wouldn't have worked for her if she had". Carter also told the police she kept in touch with Brooks as "she is my friend, no one has ever told me to stop being her friend".

Carter then confirmed to the investigating police officer that retrieving the boxes had been totally her own idea and Brooks had "no input over it". She then confirmed her News International email and telephone numbers for the investigating officers. Speaking about her planned move to Australia, Carter confirmed that she was hoping to get a job with a News International title, the Sunday Star Times based in Perth. The police then read Mays' statement to Carter, specifically his denial that he had phoned her to remove the seven boxes of documents. In the transcript Carter asks the police if her colleague Deborah Keenan had not confirmed Mays had called. Police then read Keenan's statement which said that "the first time I heard about the boxes is when Cheryl phoned me about moving them". Carter states: "I am quite clear I got two calls from him."

DC Massey then put it to Carter that there is a "sinister implication" here that the defendant is "trying to get rid of something the day after it's announced the News of the World is closing". Carter replies that she is certain "I got the two phone calls" and she is "surprised and upset" that Deborah Keenan does not recall discussing them. Carter also told the police that despite being "very good friends" with Brooks she had no advance knowledge that the News of the World was to be closed or that her boss was planning to resign.

Court then rose for the day.

All of the defendants continue to deny all of the charges, the trial continues.


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