Sex, lies and Louise Woodward's lawyer

FRIENDS of Louise Woodward rushed to the au pair's defence yesterday at the end of a week in which support from the British media began to show signs of cracking.

"Louise is a lying monster" screamed the Mirror, quoting one of her lawyers, Elaine Whitfield-Sharp, complaining about her to a friend - later identified as the freelance journalist Annette Witheridge - during a secretly taped telephone conversation.

No matter that the "lies" related not to the death of Matthew Eappen, the baby who died from head injuries while in Louise's care, but to Ms Whitfield-Sharp's claims that she was negotiating to sell her story - something she had promised not to do. Coupled with the lawyer suggesting that a book deal was in the offing, it still smacked of something going horribly wrong.

The cracks began to show on Thursday following the arrest of Ms Whitfield- Sharp, 44, on a drink-drive charge during which she allegedly told the arresting officer: "I thought she was innocent, but now I know she is guilty and I can't handle it."

The lawyer has since denied making the statement and alleged that the officer, Sgt Randy Cipoletta, said he would let her off if she agreed to have sex with him, something he has denied. But it gave the Mirror the opportunity to use the splash headline: "She did it."

For Louise, 20, it all added to the tension. She was convicted of the second degree murder of eight-month-old Matthew in Boston, Massachusetts. She was freed last November when Judge Hiller Zobel reduced the charge to manslaughter and sentenced her to time served.

Now she is awaiting the outcome of prosecution and defence appeals which could see her either sent back to jail for life, with a minimum of 15 years before parole, or cleared of all charges and allowed to return home. The result is expected any day.

During the taped telephone conversation published in yesterday's Mirror, Ms Whitfield-Sharp allegedly tells her "friend" about her disintegrating relationship with Louise, who lived at her home for some time before moving out acrimoniously.

"I don't want any more trouble with Louise Woodward than I have already got," she says. "You know she is a fucking pain in the ass. I have to tell you that when this is over, I want to quit."

Describing Louise as "a duplicitous monster" and her family as "very low class", Ms Whitfield-Sharp claims that she and her mother, Sue, lied about meeting a lawyer colleague when, in fact, they were holding negotiations with a Daily Mail representative who was offering pounds 40,000 for their story.

"I am flabbergasted," she said. "I have just found out about this Daily Mail thing. The agreement was - and the representation has always been - that the Woodwards would never make any money on this at all."

The Daily Mail said yesterday that it would not be paying money to Louise in line with the Press Complaints Commission rule that criminals should not benefit by talking about their crime. Silverglate and Good, her Boston lawyers, said no book deal had been done, but that did not prevent Ms Whitfield-Sharp from raising the spectre of wrongdoing during the taped conversation.

"I find it a little strange when some people have already contributed money in Britain that they are taking pounds 40,000," she said. And, expressing worries about Louise's defence fund, she said: "I worked for six months for free."

This, at least, gave Louise's supporters something to hit back at. The Rev Ken Davey, the vicar of Ince and Elton in Cheshire and one of the fund's trustees, said: "Everything is fully accounted for as far as the trustees are concerned. Any allegations that there is no accountability would be downright lies." He said legal fees had been running at about pounds 50,000 a month and that world-wide donations of pounds 250,000 were now down to the last pounds 50,000. "I have got a bill from [Ms Whitfield-Sharp] here," he added in response to the lawyer's claim to be working for free.

Paul Barrow, the fund's solicitor, also said that Ms Whitfield-Sharp's claims to have worked for nothing were "nonsense", adding: "It is an absolute load of rubbish. I can show you the invoice she submitted and the date it was paid, which was about two weeks ago. As to where all the fund money has gone, with the greatest respect to her it's none of her business. She has demonstrated her lack of confidentiality with some of her comments."

Support in Elton, where the Woodward family live, was still staunch, according to Mr Davey. "Our resolve has not been weakened. People in the village are still committed to Louise."

Susan Woodward refused to comment on the latest furore but, privately, friends said she is pleased that there is at least one piece of good news in all the gloom: Matthew's parents, Sunil and Deborah Eappen, have a new son. Baby Kevin weighed in at 7lb 8oz when he was born last Monday, the day after Matthew would have celebrated his second birthday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Glazier

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...

Recruitment Genius: Luxury Brand - Retail Sales Assistant - Part or Full Time

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Luxury Jeweller and Accessories - Retail Sale...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Designer is required to j...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most