Assistant 'did not remove Rebekah Brooks's papers'

Cheryl Carter arrives at court this morning Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Cheryl Carter worked for Rebekah Brooks for 16 years

Rebekah Brooks's former assistant has denied removing and hiding boxes of her boss's notebooks ahead of the News of the World's closure in July 2011.

Cheryl Carter, 49, told the phone-hacking trial boxes she had taken from News International's storage mostly contained her own personal work.

The Old Bailey also heard then NI chief Mrs Brooks paid for flights for the Carter family to emigrate to Australia.

Both women deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Mrs Carter worked for 16 years as a personal assistant to Mrs Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World, then the Sun, and then chief executive of News International - which owned the newspapers.

Close relationship

The trial heard on Tuesday that Mrs Brooks and her long-term PA "stood shoulder-to-shoulder for 16 years" and "adored" each other.

Mrs Carter described the frantic nature of her role, saying she "ran" Mrs Brooks's professional and private life.

She told the court she had helped to arrange Mrs Brooks's wedding to Charlie Brooks and had access to her bank cards and pin number.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Both women deny the charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

The prosecution claimed Mrs Carter and Mrs Brooks had arranged for seven boxes of Mrs Brooks's notebooks to be retrieved from the News International archive and then destroyed, with the intention of perverting the course of justice - the court was told.

At the time, the NoW was on the verge of closure following phone-hacking allegations.

But Mrs Carter told the court that the boxes did not contain Mrs Brooks's notebooks from the period 1995 to 2007, as described in their documentation.

Instead, they contained cuttings and scrapbooks from the six years Mrs Carter wrote a beauty column for The Sun, she said.

Mrs Carter told the court that she had not archived the seven boxes herself, in 2009, but had put "post-it" notes on each of them after they had been packed by a temp.

The notes, she said, labelled the boxes as Rebekah Brooks's notebooks because they contained one notebook that Mrs Brooks had given her when she joined her staff in 1995, and one telephone "record book" labelled with the year 2007.

Asked by her lawyer why she had not labelled the boxes as predominantly containing notebooks belonging to herself, Mrs Carter replied: "Because I was under the impression you could not put anything into the archive or storage as a PA."

A 'thank you'

The jury was also told that Mrs Brooks had offered to pay for Mrs Carter and her family to fly to Australia, where they planned to settle.

Mrs Carter said she had told Mrs Brooks in July 2011 that she planned to leave the UK in January the following year.

Her boss was "sad" when she was told about the decision, but offered to pay for the flights as a "thank you", Mrs Carter said.

Her counsel, Trevor Burke QC, put it to her that it could be suggested the offer was "a reward for disposing of the boxes".

But Mrs Carter replied: "I can say that it wasn't".

Mrs Carter was arrested days before she was due to leave and did not travel with her family.

Mrs Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, also denies conspiring to hacking phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

All seven defendants in the trial deny the various charges.

The trial continues.

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