JK Rowling was ‘unapproachable’ boss who left staff ‘terrified’, claims ex-PA

JK Rowling’s former personal assistant has labelled the Harry Potter author as a ‘generous but unapproachable’ boss who could leave staff ‘terrified’

Amanda Donaldson, 35, was suspended and later dismissed in 2017 over alleged unauthorised spending and the taking of Harry Potter merchandise to a value of almost £24,000.

Rowling has accused Ms Donaldson of fraudulently using her credit card for spending sprees without permission.

The author is seeking damages in a civil case brought under her married name Joanne Murray, and alleges Ms Donaldson made unauthorised transactions including £3,629 in retailer Molton Brown, £2,139 in card shop Paper Tiger and more than £1,800 in Starbucks and Costa coffee.

Giving evidence at Airdrie Sheriff Court in Scotland, Ms Donaldson said the author "could be really generous" and bought her a replacement pushchair when her child’s original was damaged.

But she claimed she was never given specific instructions for the use of the company credit card.

Ms Donaldson said Ms Rowling was often "busy writing and you had to respect that".

She added: "Approachable isn’t something I would say. People in the office would sometimes ask if she was in a good mood, in a terrified way."

The PA said her boss had asked her to buy cards and gift wrapping that she got in Paper Tiger and claimed thousands of pounds spent on cakes and coffees were for business meetings and staff birthdays.

Purchases in Molton Brown were for the office while spending in Jo Malone was at the request of JK Rowling, Ms Donaldson  said at the hearing.

The defendant said she was told not to disturb the author when she was busy so had to make her own spending decisions.

Ms Donaldson said: "It was my understanding I would make the decision and would tell her after what I had done. I was never told otherwise."

The alleged spending was discovered by the writer’s husband, Neil Murray, according to court documents seen by The Sun .

The newspaper reports that Neil, 47, contacted a Michelin-starred restaurant in Edinburgh that the PA was meant to have booked a table at, only to find that she hadn’t done it despite taking a £400 deposit from a business account.

The case continues.

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