Rebekah Brooks’s assistant told police that she removed seven boxes from News Corp. archives, at the height of the U.K. phone-hacking scandal, as part of a program to reduce the size of the company’s mass filing system.
Cheryl Carter, 49, also said that most of the material consisted of notebooks dating back to her role as a beauty columnist for News Corp.’s Sun tabloid, according to tapes of the 2012 interview played for jurors at a London trial today. It wasn’t until she returned home that she discovered some of the material belonged to Brooks, who was arrested by police days later on July 17, 2011.
Brooks, the 45-year-old former head of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, and Carter are among seven people on trial over wrongdoing at the company’s British publications. Prosecutors are focusing on destruction of evidence charges after the first two months of the case concerned bribes to public officials and the interception of voice-mail messages.
The discovery on July 4, 2011, that a murdered school girl’s phone had been hacked in 2002 by the News of the World triggered public outrage that led News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to close the tabloid. Carter removed the boxes from the archive on July 8 of that year, the same day Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World also charged in the case, was arrested.
Carter, who is on trial for obstruction of justice, said she returned three notebooks belonging to Brooks to her own office at News Corp.’s London offices. Carter said that her office wasn’t sealed off by police after Brooks was arrested.
“They would have been able to see it at any point,” Carter said in the 2012 interview. “But no one ever, ever asked me.”
The jury was told earlier that Carter’s son, Nick, was asked by his mother to help take the boxes from the archive. That sort of request was a “regular occurrence,” he told jurors today.