Supermodel's aide lost job after phone-hacking: inquiry
A former aide to Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson told an inquiry Tuesday she was fired after being falsely accused of leaking stories that were in fact obtained by British tabloid phone-hacking.
Mary-Ellen Field told the judge-led probe in London that losing her job harmed her health so badly she now wears a pacemaker, and that it affected her ability to look after her severely disabled son.
Field, who is also Australian but lives in London, is currently suing the Rupert Murdoch-owned News International group over the alleged illegal voicemail hacking by the now defunct News of the World tabloid.
She said she was hired as business adviser to Macpherson in 2003 and that the relationship originally went well, but that in 2005 she was summoned to a meeting with the model and accused of being an alcoholic.
Field said Macpherson gave her the choice of going to rehab or losing her job, adding: "She put her arms around me and says she knows what it's like to be an alcoholic".
Macpherson then accused Field of speaking to the media on 11 occasions, which Field denied.
A series of stories about the break-up of Macpherson's relationship to Swiss multi-millionaire Arpad Busson had appeared in papers, she said.
Field said she went to rehab but Macpherson called her and fired her anyway, saying she was "ungrateful". The company that employed Field then made her redundant two months later.
Later, following the arrests of the News of the World's former royal editor and a private detective who worked for the paper, she had a tip-off from a lawyer that Macpherson was a victim of phone-hacking, she said.
Field later gave interviews to Britain's Guardian newspaper and the New York Times, which led efforts to investigate the extent of hacking at the News of the World.
The hacking inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in July amid public anger over the scandal when it emerged that the News of the World had accessed the voicemails of Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl.
Milly's parents told the inquiry on Monday that the paper had also erased some of their daughter's voicemails, giving them false hope she was alive. Actor Hugh Grant also testified.
Comic actor Steve Coogan and former English Premier League footballer Gary Flitcroft are also testifying on Tuesday.
© 2011 AFP