Hacking inquiry: Elle MacPherson aide says she lost her job due to leaks
A FORMER adviser to supermodel Elle Macpherson told the press standards inquiry today that she lost her job after being suspected of leaking stories.
Mary-Ellen Field said she was accused of speaking to the media because she was an "alcoholic" and was persuaded to spend time in a clinic.
Lord Justice Leveson was told that Ms Field had made allegations of phone hacking, spoken to police and was seeking damages in the High Court.
Ms Field told the inquiry that she was a specialist in "intellectual property rights" and was working for an international tax and accountancy firm when she met Macpherson in 2003.
She said she got on well with Macpherson - who, like her, came from Sydney, Australia - and the model became her client.
Ms Field said the relationship was "very successful" from both a "financial" and "developmental" point of view and the pair did "very exciting things".
She said she and Macpherson became friends and the model confided in her.
Ms Field said Macpherson was given an office at her firm.
"She said 'Why don't I move into your office?'" said Ms Field. "I asked my CEO (Chief Executive Officer), who was a man, and it took probably three nano-seconds to decide it would be a good idea to have a supermodel in the office."
Ms Field said in 2005 Macpherson separated from her boyfriend and "tittle-tattle" appeared in the press.
She said the model became concerned about "listening devices" and security checks were carried out but nothing was found.
Ms Field said she was contacted by a lawyer representing Macpherson and told that the model was "not prepared to have me speaking in the press any more".
"I was amazed. So I called Elle," said Ms Field. "It was the first time she was really grouchy with me. She said 'I can't have you speaking to the media. You have been speaking to the press'."
Ms Field told the inquiry that she had "absolutely not" been speaking to the media about Macpherson.
She added: "Until last year I had probably only met about four journalists in my life."
Ms Field said it was suggested to her that she had been speaking to journalists because she was "alcoholic".
She told the judge: "I said, 'excuse me?'" and added: "I thought they had all gone mad."
Ms Field said Macpherson had proposed rehabilitation.
"Elle had proposed I go to rehab to recover from this 'alcoholism' - the same place she goes to," said Ms Field. "She said she knows I would never go to the press unless I was alcoholic."
Ms Field said Macpherson had told her that if she did not go to the clinic she would be fired.
She told the judge: "After half an half of psycho-babble, I said I wanted to see my husband."
Ms Field said Macpherson wore her down and she "gave in" and went to a clinic called The Meadows - which the inquiry has been told was in the United States.
"I have never even had a cigarette in my life. I didn't even know what they were talking about," said Ms Field.
"They wanted me to take anti-depressants. I wouldn't. I'm a runner and I wanted to use the gym and they wouldn't let me because they said it was 'obsessive behaviour'...
"They said I was getting intervention - like in those CIA renditions."
Ms Field added: "Elle told me it was like a spa or something. It was a grade-one psychiatric facility with men going around with guns."
She went on: "One woman had injected drugs between her toes ... It was horrible."
Ms Field said after she left the clinic Macpherson had told her that she was "fired". She had lost her job and her firm after being told that she was "indiscreet" and that "Elle didn't trust me".
She said the loss of her job had a "very serious effect" on her which was made worse by her becoming "ill".
Ms Field said police investigating phone hacking had made arrests in 2006 and following those developments she had contacted police and begun litigation.
A lawyer representing Ms Field had earlier told the inquiry how it emerged that stories had been obtained by the unlawful interception of Ms Field's and Macpherson's voicemails.