JK Rowl­ing sues PA for $42k credit card theft

The Advertiser - - WEEKEND EXTRA - ELEANOR HAY­WARD

J.K. ROWL­ING’S hus­band told a court yesterday he was as­ton­ished how “good at ly­ing” his wife’s PA was when he con­fronted her over an al­leged $42,000 fraud­u­lent shop­ping spree.

The Harry Pot­ter au­thor, pic­tured, is su­ing for­mer em­ployee Amanda Don­ald­son, 35, for us­ing a com­pany credit card to buy high-end cos­met­ics, food and two lux­ury cats.

Her hus­band, Dr Neil Mur­ray, un­cov­ered the al­leged fraud when Ms Don­ald­son stole a $700 cash deposit for a Christ­mas party at a Miche­lin­starred restau­rant and then faked emails from the restau­rant to cover her tracks.

Giv­ing ev­i­dence at a Scot­tish Court yesterday, Dr Mur­ray said he was as­ton­ished when Ms Don­ald­son “looked straight at me and bla­tantly lied” as he chal­lenged her over the theft.

He said Ms Don­ald­son, who was sacked by Ms Rowl­ing last year, stole Harry Pot­ter mer­chan­dise in­tended for sick and dy­ing chil­dren.

The PA, a mother of two from La­nark­shire, is ac­cused of us­ing a busi­ness credit card for per­sonal spend­ing.

Of the mo­ment he con­fronted Ms Don­ald­son, Dr Mur­ray told the court: “Amanda had al­ways adopted a lively, slightly bub­bly, a bit scatty de­meanour. I thought she might be emo­tional or run about the of­fice look­ing for bits of pa­per but what I found was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity.

“She looked at me and bla­tantly lied about giv­ing that money to the restau­rant and lied about other things. I was taken aback at how good at ly­ing she was.”

Dr Mur­ray added: “I have ex­pe­ri­ence of ly­ing, I ran a methadone clinic and usu­ally there are give­away signs but she re­mained calm, her pupils didn’t close and her cheeks didn’t flush.”

The court heard that Ms Don­ald­son also took for­eign money from an of­fice safe to which only she had the com­bi­na­tion. The PA, who be­gan work­ing for Ms Rowl­ing in 2014, was re­spon­si­ble for com­pany funds and mem­o­ra­bilia re­quests from fans.

She de­nies wrongly ben­e­fit­ing to a value of $42,000 and claims pur­chases were busi­ness-re­lated.

Dr Mur­ray said his wife’s ac­coun­tant first emailed him over Ms Don­ald­son’s al­leged fraud af­ter she falsely claimed she had paid a $700 deposit for a restau­rant book­ing in Ed­in­burgh.

They found “dozens if not hun­dreds of en­tries where Amanda used the (credit) card to pur­chase things for her­self”.

The civil case con­tin­ues later this month.

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