For­mer as­sis­tant of JK Rowl­ing ac­cused of fraud

Alert raised af­ter credit card spend­ing sprees

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY PAUL WARD

A for­mer as­sis­tant of JK Rowl­ing ac­cused of fraud­u­lently us­ing the au­thor’s credit card for spend­ing sprees was a “good liar”, ac­cord­ing to the Harry Pot­ter au­thor’s hus­band.

Dr Neil Mur­ray said Amanda Don­ald­son was em­ployed to or­gan­ise his wife’s busi­ness and pro­fes­sional mat­ters.

She was sus­pended and later dis­missed in 2017 over al­leged unau­tho­rised spend­ing that in­cluded £3,629 in re­tailer Molton Brown, £2,139 in card shop Pa­per Tiger and more than £1,800 in Star­bucks and Costa cof­fee shops.

Rowl­ing claims Ms Don­ald­son wrongly ben­e­fited from the credit card and by tak­ing Harry Pot­ter mer­chan­dise to a to­tal value of al­most £24,000 and is seek­ing dam­ages in the civil case .

Ms Don­ald­son de­nies the claims against her.

Asked by the au­thor’s lawyer why one of the coun­try’s wealth­i­est peo­ple is pur­su­ing an ac­tion over a rel­a­tively small amount of money, Dr Mur­ray, 47, said: “I would say there is a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple here.

“I firmly be­lieve Amanda has stolen a sub­stan­tial amount of money and Harry Pot­ter mer­chan­dise in the of­fice that was for sick and dy­ing chil­dren.

“She con­tin­ues to deny any of it. I feel per­son­ally we have a duty to pro­tect any fu­ture em­ployer.”

Air­drie Sher­iff Court heard Dr Mur­ray was a co-man­ager of his wife’s busi­ness af­fairs and an ac­coun­tant raised con­cerns with him over the per­sonal as­sis­tant’s spend­ing be­tween 2014 and 2017.

Dr Mur­ray told the court he chal­lenged Ms Don­ald­son over the money in “an as­ton­ish­ing en­counter”.

He said: “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 shut down, was calm and ba­si­cally lied.”

Ms Don­ald­son’s lawyer said Dr Mur­ray was car­ry­ing out a “char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion” of her client.

The civil case be­fore Sher­iff Derek O’Car­roll con­tin­ues later in De­cem­ber.

HEAR­ING: JK Rowl­ing’s hus­band, Neil Mur­ray, right, gave ev­i­dence in the civil case against Amanda Don­ald­son, left

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