Andy Coulson, the former Downing Street communications director, knew that details of an affair between the actors Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller had been illegally obtained through voicemail interceptions and then orchestrated a cover-up, the phone-hacking trial has heard.
Mr Coulson, who at the time was editor of the News of the World but later became David Cameron’s Director of Communications, was allegedly played a tape recording of a message left by Ms Miller on the phone of Mr Craig.
The message had been hacked by Dan Evans, one of Mr Coulson’s reporters during his editorship at the News International title. According to Mr Evans, his former editor was played the recording while standing near the desk of a senior journalist.
He told the court that Mr Coulson “became very animated” when he heard the recording, said “brilliant”, and subsequently advised that steps should be taken to ensure that it appeared the recording was legitimately acquired through conventional journalistic methods.
In a second day of testimony at the Old Bailey, Mr Evans told the court he was ordered to make a copy of the recording on another tape, place it in a Jiffy bag and have it sent to the front desk of the newspaper’s building, as if it had been handed in anonymously.
On the message left by Ms Miller on Mr Craig’s phone, the actress is heard saying she is unable to talk because she is with Jude Law, her then boyfriend, at a club in London, before adding that she loves Mr Craig. The James Bond actor was working in the US at the time, the court heard.
According to Mr Evans, who was being questioned by the chief prosecution counsel, Andrew Edis QC, the bag with the copied tape then arrived back on the NOTW’s editorial floor at its offices in Wapping, east London, and was collected by one of Mr Evans’ colleagues.
The journalist adopted a look of “mock surprise” as he received it, before exclaiming: “Oh, look what I have.”
Mr Coulson, along with News International’s former chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, is charged with conspiracy to hack mobile phones. Both deny the charges.
According to Mr Evans, Mr Coulson gave a specific directive that he wanted to hear the tape, which had first been played to another senior NOTW journalist.
The tape’s detail confirmed rumours already known to a journalist on the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, and a draft of a story outlining the Miller-Craig affair had already been shown to Mr Coulson.
Mr Evans said: “Andy came over. He wanted to hear the tape.” He said he played the tape to Mr Coulson and another executive. “I played the tape a couple of times. They said ‘Good work.’” He added: “Everyone was having a bit of an adrenaline kick.”
The recording and what it confirmed was praised by other NOTW staff who warmly congratulated Mr Evans, saying “Good work.” A senior journalist who had listened to the tape with Mr Coulson is alleged to have added: “You’re a company man now Dan.”
As Mr Evans outlined events, Mr Coulson, who had been taking notes sitting in the witness box, shook his head.
As part of the NOTW’s preparations to publish the story, Mr Evans said he visited Mr Craig’s home in London. The court heard he “fronted up” the James Bond actor by knocking on his door and, when he answered, apologised and said his paper had details of his affair with Sienna Miller.
According to Mr Evans, Mr Craig denied the story saying “No, no, no… it’s not true.” Because of the denial, the story was held over until the following Sunday.
The court was also told by Mr Evans of another time that Mr Craig’s mobile phone was hacked. A message had been left for him by Ms Miller’s then boyfriend, Mr Law, in which he expressed a hope that Mr Craig’s then girlfriend, Satsuki Mitchell, would not find out about the affair.
Mr Evans told the jury: “For the record, I would like to apologise to them all for having their privacy infringed.”
He told the court that before the story broke, he had been under intense pressure to come up with stories. He said one of the paper’s journalists had sent him an email saying: “If you do not come up with a front-page story you might as well jump off a cliff.”
Mr Evans was also asked who else knew about phone hacking at the NOTW. He listed 10 names including Mr Coulson, former news editor James Weatherup and eight others who cannot be identified for legal reasons. Weatherup has pleaded guilty to a phone-hacking conspiracy, the jury has heard.
On Monday, the jury heard Mr Evans had pleaded guilty to phone hacking while he was at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005 and at the NOTW up until 2010. He also pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office between 2005 and 2010. The court heard he entered into an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service in 2012 and had given two statements since.
The trial continues.