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Phone-hacking trial: Brooks was 'very upset' at the Dowler story, says one of her former PAs

By James Doleman |

January 8, 2014 | 8 min read

When court resumed after lunch Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, called to the stand Gary Keegan to testify on charge six, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against Rebekah Brooks and her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter.

Mr and Mrs Keegan Leave Court

Gary Keegan told the court he was married to Deborah Keegan, who also worked as a personal assistant for Brooks. On the day in question, 8 July 2011, Keegan agreed to help his wife out as Brooks' normal driver was ill. The witness confirmed he was called by his wife and asked for help moving boxes. Shown a box by the prosecution, he confirmed that was the type he moved. As there was no cross-examination Mr Keegan was allowed to step down.

Next Deborah Keegan came to the witness box. She confirmed that she had asked her husband to help move some boxes at the request of Cheryl Carter. Asked by Edis if she could remember what Carter had asked her to move, the witness said she could not recall. The prosecution then asked if the witness could remember any conversation with Nick Mays from the archive. Keegan said she did recall some calls but could not remember the details as she was "very, very busy". After calling her husband to help move the boxes, Keegan told the jury she had no further involvement and "physically never saw them".

The witness was then shown a copy of a document from 2009 from the archive department from when the boxes in question were originally deposited at the archive and asked what she recalled about it. Keegan replied that this was "low on our list of priorities, when you have phones ringing and 5,000 things to do".

Trevor Burke then cross-examined the witness and asked if she had met with Carter since she had been charged in relation to the case. Keegan told the court that she had always sought the "all clear" from Carter's legal team and made sure there was someone else present. Burke then had the witness shown a floor plan of the 10th floor of News International's offices at Thomas Moore Square and identified Rebekah Brooks' office and the large desk she shared with Cheryl Carter. The witness agreed that both space and room for filing was very limited.

Burke then gave the witness a "filing list," from July 2011, used by Burke and Carter to note in which cabinet various documents were stored. This included entries for "Charlie's contracts" and "gun licence". There was also an area listed as "Rebekah Brooks' notebooks" which, Burke noted, would have allowed the police to access these if they had seen the list. The witness explained that on this floor, "corporate land" as she called it, there was an aversion to "clutter" and a lack of storage space.

The witness was then asked if Carter was happy in the new offices. Carter said she was not and had even considered giving up her £17,000 pay rise and going back to the Sun. She had also started missing work through illness which Keegan said was "linked" to her discontent with the new "paperless environment".

In 2009, when they were about to move into this office, Keegan told the court she and Carter had came in to work one Sunday to clean up, and had placed some items in binbags and some in archive boxes. She agreed that could have included some of magazine clippings and notebooks used by Carter for her weekly "beauty" column in the Sun. Burke asked Keegan if she could recall exactly what had been put in the boxes, the witness replied that she could not be sure as she was just piling paper in hers and did not see what Carter was packing. It was "pretty chaotic" Keegan told the court.

The defence QC then turned to Brooks' "desk diary". The witness explained this sat on her desk and was used to list appointments. There was also Brooks' own personal diary which was kept in the office. Mrs Brooks, Keegan said, answered her own emails and did not take a secretary into meetings to take notes. The role of the PA, the witness agreed, was "to run her life" and deal with mortgages, bills, transport etc so Brooks could concentrate on her job. They did not assist with editorial or executive work. Brooks also insisted all communication be by email "even if she was standing next to me" so there would be a record of what was going on. "She did not want you knocking on her door and speaking to her," the witness confirmed. Various examples of this were then shown to the court such as "book a table for me" or "Rebekah has left her keys in the flat, could you drop them off with Charlie?" The two personal assistants also took care of banking for Brooks.

The court was then shown an email about Zack, Brooks' personal trainer, who would come into the office and go through a workout. Another personal trainer, Callum, arranged intensive training sessions called "bootcamps" at Brooks' Oxfordshire home. Keegan recalled that one of these was booked in for July 2011.

The defence lawyer then asked the witness if she recalled conversations about the archive department returning items such as framed football shirts, pictures and Sun front pages and Cheryl Carter saying "where the fuck are we going to put this stuff". The witness said she did not remember exactly and Justice Saunders asked her not to speculate but just answer about what she remembered. The court was then shown an email from Brooks to the witness in June 2012 saying, "I need my 2002-2003 diaries." The witness confirmed this was in relation to ongoing stories in the press about Milly Dowler and Brooks was trying to establish if she was in the country at the time (the court has already heard Brooks was in Dubai at the time). Keegan told the court that Brooks was "very upset" at the Dowler story and gave no impression that she was responsible for it.

Keegan said neither she or Carter had any fore-knowledge of the 7 July announcement that the News of the World was to be closed down, although she had heard rumours and see lots of "to-ing and fro-ing" in the office. Keegan told the court that she had went on holiday in Italy on the week Brooks resigned as CEO of News International and was surprised at the news when she heard it. The witness agreed that she had no inkling Brooks would become of interest to the police or be arrested. An email was shown to the court from Brooks which was an announcement of a "Town Hall Meeting" at 4.30pm on the 8th July which was the same time that Carter was picking up the seven boxes from the archive. The barrister asked the witness if Brooks would have been involved in such "mundane" details as retrieving boxes of documents, Keegan replied that she did not believe she would have been.

Finally the defence QC asked the witness if she recalled that Cheryl Carter had started her own make-up brand that was being stocked in Superdrug Keegan said she had. The witness also confirmed that Carter had been discussing emigrating to Australia with her family for many years before the events of 2011.

Court then rose for the day.

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

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