“Shock” and “anxiety” ran through the editorial floor of the News of the World the day two people were arrested in 2006 in connection with phone hacking. The description, from the former News International staff journalist Dan Evans, was told to the jury at the phone hacking trial.
When Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator hired by the Murdoch-owned paper to hack phones, and the NOTW’s former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, were both “lifted” by Scotland Yard detectives in August 2006, Evans said :”Everybody was on tenterhooks. There was a lot of fear and anxiety around. A lot of people were preparing to cover their tracks.”
Evans was told by a senior member of the now-shuttered tabloid “It goes without saying – no more hooky stuff.” Hooky stuff, the jury was told, meant hacking.
With journalists at the paper gripped by what he described as a “palpable sense of shock”, Mr Evans said that he “started to get rid of all the evidence I could get my hands on.”
This, he said, included destroying evidence of voicemails he had recorded or noted down. He told the court he destroyed tape-recordings, and micro-cassettes that were both inside and on top of his desk in the newsroom.
Evans, who has pleaded guilty to hacking charges related to periods as a staff journalist at both the NOTW and the Sunday Mirror, said he “sucked the ribbons” [magnetic tape] out of the cassettes, smashed them up, and dropped them into the company’s recycling bins.
He said he went through paper “in and out boxes”, call data lists, and shredded and openly disposed of material in the NOTW’s offices. “It was a purge basically,” he told the court.
Even although his notebooks “may have contained legitimate stuff” he “did away with them too” which involved stuffing material into bin bags, taking them to his car, and going through the same process at his home.
Evans told the court that an "A-list" of hacking targets and PIN numbers that he had built up over years, was printed out and kept in his pocket. Evidence of the printing was erased.
The jury heard how he “wrapped the list in back gaffer tape and stuffed it into a place in my mate’s loft.”
The list was retrieved later, and “in a foolish moment of madness” was used to hack the phone of interior designer Kelly Hoppen".
Evans described his urge to return to hacking after the purge as a “curiosity that killed the cat".
The attempted hack was noticed by Ms Hoppen and News International later suspended him. He was made redundant when the NOTW was closed by Rupert Murdoch in 2011.
The seven defendants deny all the charges. The case continues.