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'I advised Clayton to keep aide from cheques'

A FORMER business adviser to Adam Clayton has told a trial he recommended the U2 star remove his personal assistant as a cheque signatory as soon as she had admitted spending his money on herself.

Gaby Smith claimed Carol Hawkins, the U2 star's former PA who is accused of stealing almost €3m, had confessed to Mr Clayton about spending €15,325.70 on flights.

Hawkins (48), 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 from 2004 to 2008.

Mr Smith told prosecuting counsel Colm O'Briain, that Ms Hawkins did not mention to him she had written cheques to herself.

He said it was in September 2008 he informed Ms Hawkins of new procedures, that she was to continue being Mr Clayton's administrator but was to have no further access to his banking facilities.

He also said she was being removed as cheque signatory to Mr Clayton's two bank accounts -- Danesmoate and Fitzwilliam -- but that she was to have access to a credit card to pay household expenses for Mr Clayton.

He said prior to 2007, when he became aware Ms Hawkins was having marriage difficulties, her work "appeared to be efficient". Mr Smith agreed with defence counsel that Ms Hawkins had unlimited authority to make payments on Mr Clayton's behalf since the 1990s. He said from 2004 to 2008, Ms Hawkins was responsible for making payments to architects and interior designers for major renovation works of nearly €20m for Mr Clayton's properties in Ireland and France.

Mr Fogarty put it to Mr Smith that "ordinary mortals might not know the scope and scale of responsibility Ms Hawkins had to keep the show on the road, 24 hours a day, seven days a week".

"It was a committed job," said Mr Smith.

The trial continues.