Clayton denies using ex-PA's credit card to preserve his limit
on 26/06/2012 18:06:05
The U2 bass guitarist told defence counsel Ken Fogarty SC that the limit on his credit card is €25,000 and on numerous occasions, his card had been declined.
He was being cross-examined by counsel on day fifteen of the trial of his former personal assistant, Carol Hawkins, who is accused of stealing nearly €3m from his accounts.
"I have tried to pay for something and there is not enough money on the card from time to time," Mr Clayton told defence counsel. "Somewhere between eight and ten times it was declined in either America or the UK."
"I'd ring either Gabby Smith or Carol Hawkins and I'd ask them to check it out for me," he said.
He said sometimes it might be declined, despite having money on the card, because of his travelling through different jurisdictions in a short space of time, sparking a security alert on the transactions.
Hawkins (aged 47) of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 181 counts of theft from two of Mr Clayton's Bank of Ireland accounts over a four year period from 2004 to 2008. The alleged thefts totalled €2, 862,567.
Mr Clayton told Mr Fogarty he would "use a different card" to pay for what he wanted when his card was declined.
Defence counsel put it to him that "this is exactly what Ms Hawkins was doing" - using her own card to purchase items for his benefit to keep his card in credit.
"If she used your credit card and you were trying to use it, she would use another card," said Mr Fogarty. "I am suggesting this relates to accountancy."
Mr Clayton denied the suggestion and said: "I never suggested to Carol Hawkins to put things on her credit card to preserve the limit on mine."
Counsel put it to Mr Clayton that Ms Hawkins' role as a housekeeper and personal assistant was more than just writing cheques. This was in reference to Mr Clayton's statement during the trial last week that "Carol Hawkins bought cornflakes."
"I think you suggested she bought my furniture," Mr Clayton replied to Mr Fogarty. "I am not trivialising her position. She wrote the cheques."
Mr Fogarty put it to Mr Clayton that "there was never a limitation of what she was required to do," including training staff in his homes overseas and packing up the personal effects of the late INXS singer Michael Hutchence, which were in the Australian singer's French home when Mr Clayton purchased it after his death in 1997.
Mr Clayton agreed with Mr Fogarty that Ms Hawkins had arranged for Mr Hutchence's items to be packed up and sent to his partner, Paula Yates, after Mr Clayton purchased the dead singer's Rochequefort Les Pins home in France. But Mr Clayton added: "Carol Hawkins arranged this but she didn't do it on-site, but over the phone."
He agreed with Mr Fogarty that Ms Hawkins may have travelled to his Holland Park Mews home in London to "arrange with furniture and lettings," but he said it was in 2000.
During re-examination, prosecuting counsel Colm O'Briain BL asked the witness: "In terms of living the high life, were you aware she had an international stable with 22 horses?"
Mr Clayton replied "No, I wasn't aware of this," and agreed with Mr O'Briain that this was "kept secret" from him.
The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women.