Andy Coulson, the former Downing Street communications chief, has insisted he was never played a voicemail message which a previous witness at the hacking trial claimed was obtained illegally from the phone of the actor Daniel Craig.
During earlier testimony by a former News of the World journalist Dan Evans, it was alleged that Mr Coulson was played the voicemail obtained from the James Bond actor’s phone which contained a message from the actress Sienna Miller. Evans claimed that Mr Coulson had become “very animated” on hearing the actress declare her love for Mr Craig. At the time of the alleged hack, Ms Miller was married to the actor Jude Law. A story of their affair was later run in the now-defunct News International Sunday tabloid.
Mr Coulson, 46, who edited the NOTW from 2003 till 2007, dismissed the testimony from Evans and said the incident never happened.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey for a fourth day, Mr Coulson again denied he knew about hacking activities inside the NOTW until the arrest of the former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, in 2006. Evans, the jury has been told, has admitted conspiracy to hack phones.
Evans, 38, has also claimed that Mr Coulson knew about his activities and told him a voicemail he taped from Ms Miller to Mr Craig exposing their alleged affair was “brilliant”. Mr Coulson said Evans’s account was wrong.
Defence counsel Timothy Langdale QC asked Mr Coulson: “Dan Evans told the court that in September 2005 there was an occasion when he played to you a voicemail message left on Daniel Craig’s telephone by Sienna Miller. Did any such incident take place?”
The defendant replied: “No, it did not.” Mr Langdale also asked if Mr Coulson was aware of Mulcaire’s hacking methods, to which the editor replied: “Absolutely not – no.”
Mr Coulson said there was no reason to believe hacking techniques were used because journalists had key contacts connected to celebrities, particularly in the case of the Miller-Craig affair.
Their identities were not disclosed in court, though it has already been reported that a relative of Jude Law had been supplying information.
Mr Coulson said the NOTW’s front-page exclusive about Mr Miller and Ms Craig came in the same week in 2005 when he had been busy overseeing a serialisation of British boxer Frank Bruno’s biography.
He told the court: “It was a long, complicated book serialisation. I remember the publishers insisted on making changes quite late in the day, and I think the lawyers were involved as well. “It took up a lot of my time.”
Mr Coulson said he believed information on the Miller-Craig affair might have come from Ms Miller’s mother. He said: “People in and around celebrities – their relatives, their agents, their PRs – will talk to newspapers.”
He said he had asked staff not to refer to Mr Law as either a “sex addict” or a “love rat” in copy due to the paper’s relationship with sources in his camp. He said he believed Mr Law was aware that some of those close to him were talking to the press.
Mr Coulson said he could not remember having any specific dealings with Evans – whom the tabloid recruited in January 2005 – during their time on the paper.
The court was given details by Mr Coulson from his formal office diary. He said that during the days when Evans had alleged the Sienna Miller voicemail was played in the offices of the NOTW, Mr Coulson was in Brighton at Labour’s annual conference.
Mr Coulson denies involvement in a conspiracy to hack phones and bribe officials in public office.
All other defendants in the trial also deny all charges against them.
The trial continues.