Friday 20 October 2017

Clayton: I never treated my PA as an indentured bond-servant

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

U2 star Adam Clayton has denied that his former personal assistant bought items for him in her name to protect his privacy and anonymity.

On his second day in the witness box yesterday, the bass guitarist rejected suggestions that Carol Hawkins had become "indentured as a bond-servant" to him after he had taken her and her family from their small hotel on a Caribbean island to come work for him.

Carol Hawkins (48) has pleaded not guilty to stealing €2.8m from Clayton and lodging the proceeds of 181 cheques from his bank accounts in her own account from 2004 to 2008.

Under cross-examination by Ken Fogarty, Mr Clayton denied that Ms Hawkins spent the money for his benefit.

"The fact is she wrote cheques from my accounts and put them in her accounts," Mr Clayton said. "She was using my accounts to pay her bills."

Mr Fogarty put it to him that money going through the bank account of Ms Hawkins to pay for items like designer goods and limousine services was "still effectively money expended" for Mr Clayton's benefit. Mr Clayton denied this.

Pointing to a red folder on the table in the courtroom, Mr Fogarty asked Mr Clayton if he had ever seen Ms Hawkins "walking around in shoes with that type of red on the sole" -- in reference to a famous designer brand. He also asked if he had ever seen her with a handbag that cost a fortune "hanging off her arm".

Mr Clayton indicated that he had not, adding that this was "not relevant".

Transactions

Mr Fogarty suggested privacy was the reason why it was Ms Hawkins's name on the lease for the apartment at Taylor's Hill in 2006 which was being rented by her and her family while renovations were taking place at Mr Clayton's Danesmoate estate.

Mr Fogarty suggested that as a private person, Mr Clayton would prefer not to have "every Tom, Dick or Harry" knowing anything about him other than that "he lives there". Mr Clayton agreed.

And Mr Fogarty also suggested that Ms Hawkins worked on the assumption that in commercial transactions, it was better to have "Adam Clayton at arms' length from anything".

Mr Clayton said: "That would be an element of it."

Mr Fogarty suggested that the only way Ms Hawkins could do this was by transferring funds from Mr Clayton's account into her own.

But Mr Clayton disagreed, saying: "She was never asked to do that," adding "that's not what happened."

Mr Fogarty put it to Mr Clayton that "the psyche of U2 and most. . . rock bands" led them to seek privacy against the "obsession" of ordinary people.

Mr Clayton agreed that there was "certainly a lot of interest" but added that this was no reason for Ms Hawkins not to pay for things in his name because he had no difficulty with that and there was no need to spend her own money on his account.

It was put to him that he occupied a "rarefied atmosphere" where he did not have to do his own shopping and was able to "lie back" and get others to do things for him.

Mr Clayton replied that this was only when he was working and when he was not, he lived a "perfectly normal, regular life".

"We all live in the same world," Mr Clayton said.

"I'm suggesting you are a 'get it done man'," Mr Fogarty said, asking if he preferred people to bring him "problems or solutions".

"Problems are a part of life," Mr Clayton answered, adding that he believed you had to take "personal responsibility for some of these things".

"Don't you just, Mr Clayton," replied the barrister, putting it to Mr Clayton that this case was the "manifestation of failure to take personal responsibility".

Mr Clayton said: "I disagree."

He also said he did not give Ms Hawkins permission to spend his money educating her children, Joe and Eleanor. He said he had hired Ms Hawkins and her husband John to work for him and how they educated their children was not his concern.

He said he was not concerned about how Mr Hawkins was paying for the upkeep of the horse he loaned him €20,000 to buy. "I didn't ask him for a business plan. I am not a business man," the musician said.

He objected to the suggestion that Ms Hawkins, who was on a "modest" salary of €48,000, became "indentured to him as a bond-servant".

"I'm sorry, but I have to object to that," said Mr Clayton.

Ms Hawkins, of Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to 181 counts of theft from two of Mr Clayton's Bank of Ireland accounts from 2004 to 2008.

The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court will resume on Monday.

Irish Independent

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