Scotland

Ex-aide of JK Rowling hits back over credit card claims

JK Rowling Image copyright PA
Image caption JK Rowling hired Amanda Donaldson to help organise her business and personal matters.

The former personal assistant of JK Rowling has described the author as a generous but unapproachable boss.

Amanda Donaldson made the comments during a civil case at Airdrie Sheriff Court brought against her by the Harry Potter creator.

Ms Donaldson is accused of fraudulently using the author's credit card to fund spending sprees that included buying luxury cosmetics from Molton Brown.

But the 35-year-old said she was "offended and hurt" by the claim.

Giving evidence in court, she said the author "could be really generous" and bought her a replacement pushchair when her child's original was damaged.

But she claimed she was never given specific instructions for the use of the company credit card.

'Good mood'

Ms Donaldson said Ms Rowling was often "busy writing and you had to respect that".

She added: "Approachable isn't something I would say. People in the office would sometimes ask if she was in a good mood, in a terrified way."

The PA, from Coatbridge in Lanarkshire, was suspended and later dismissed in 2017 over alleged unauthorised spending and the taking of Harry Potter merchandise to a total value of almost £24,000.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Amanda Donaldson gave evidence at Airdrie Sheriff Court where her former employer, author JK Rowling, is taking legal action against her

Ms Rowling is seeking damages in a civil case brought under her married name Joanne Murray.

She alleges Ms Donaldson made transactions including £3,629 in retailer Molton Brown, £2,139 in card shop Paper Tiger and more than £1,800 in Starbucks and Costa coffee shops on a company credit card without authorisation.

Ms Donaldson said her boss had asked her to buy cards and gift wrapping that she got in Paper Tiger and claimed thousands of pounds spent on cakes and coffees were for business meetings and staff birthdays.

Spending decisions

She said the purchases in Molton Brown were for the office while spending in Jo Malone was at the request of Ms Rowling.

The defendant said she was told not to disturb the author when she was busy so had to make her own spending decisions.

"It was my understanding I would make the decision and would tell her after what I had done. I was never told otherwise," Ms Donaldson said.

Questioned on how she responded to the fraud allegations, the 35-year-old said: "I really respected my role and would never have dreamed of doing anything like that.

"I'm quite offended and hurt (by the accusation)."

Ms Donaldson was later asked by her lawyer Allana Turley: "As far as you were aware what you were doing with the card you were allowed to do?"

The PA said: "That's correct."

The court previously heard how Ms Rowling's husband, Dr Neil Murray, had described Ms Donaldson as a "good liar".

The civil case before Sheriff Derek O'Carroll continues.

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