News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch called Rebekah Brooks’s personal assistant at the height of the phone-hacking scandal and told her not to let her boss resign.
Cheryl Carter, testifying at a London criminal court, said that Murdoch called her on the day the News of the World tabloid was closed in July 2011 amid public outrage over revelations company journalists had listened to messages on a murdered teenager’s mobile phone.
“He wanted to make sure that I was looked after and said ‘please don’t let Rebekah resign’” as chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, Carter, 49, said. “Mr. Murdoch was very concerned about Rebekah.”
Brooks and Carter are accused of perverting the course of justice as the phone-hacking scandal engulfed the News of the World tabloid. They are two of seven people on trial for the last five months over a range of wrongdoing at the company’s British newspapers.
Brooks, 45, eventually resigned days later and was escorted from the company headquarters.
Carter denied that she was in a “criminal conspiracy” with Brooks, Brooks’s husband Charlie and a News Corp. security official to remove seven boxes from company archives to hide evidence before Brooks was arrested by police.
Asked by Trevor Burke, her lawyer, if Carter would commit a crime for Brooks, she said: “I would not commit a crime for Rebekah Brooks.”
“Not even to protect her?” Burke asked.
“No,” Carter replied.
Carter said she didn’t lie to police when she told them Brooks was abroad at a “boot camp” exercise holiday when the notebooks were removed from the archive.
“It was my recollection and I got it wrong and I look stupid but it was two weeks later,” she said.
Earlier today, she told the court that even though they were marked Rebekah Brooks’ notebooks from the period 1995 to 2007, the boxes actually primarily contained clips and scrapbooks from the six years Carter wrote a beauty column for News Corp.’s Sun tabloid.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis said that Carter claimed the boxes were full of “worthless stuff” in order to hide the reality that she was “destroying evidence.”
He said that Carter claimed the boxes were full of old columns and notebooks because it would look “odd” to remove Brooks’s materials on the day the News of the World closed.