Hacking trial: NOTW reporter Dan Evans says phone hacking such common knowledge at paper 'even the office cat knew'

Journalist tells jury at the Old Bailey he had been caught up in 'an enormous conspiracy'

Phone hacking was an “open secret” on the editorial floor of the News of the World and former editor Andy Coulson knew “exactly what went on on his watch”, a jury at the Old Bailey heard.

Dan Evans, the former Sunday Mirror and News International staff journalist who has pleaded guilty to hacking phones during a seven-year period at both the Mirror Group and the Murdoch-owned title, said his activities at the News of the World were “completely understood” by his superior.

The court heard that despite daily news conferences at the paper maintaining a pretence that hacking was not used, there was no other concealment. Even the “office cat” knew about the illegal practice, Evans said.

The jury has already heard a claim that Evans was hired from the Sunday Mirror by the News of the World specifically for his phone hacking skills.

Giving evidence for a third day, Evans was questioned by counsel for Mr Coulson, Timothy Langdale QC.

The court heard how in 2009, after a self-imposed moratorium on hacking that followed the arrests of the News of the World’s investigator Glenn Mulcaire and former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, Evans attempted to hack into the voicemail of designer Kelly Hoppen. The attempt was spotted, the police notified and News International faced civil action.

Evans admitted to the court that he had lied to the police in his witness statement. He told the jury that his excuse, that “sticky keys” on his mobile had contributed to his dialling Ms Hoppen’s number, was “completely untrue”.

Questioned about his  reliability and truthfulness by Mr Langdale, Evans said that when he was first quizzed by a News International executive about what had happened, he mentioned how his phone was worn out and had sticky keys. He said this detail then appeared in a draft document drawn up for him by News International’s lawyers.

Evans told the court: “There was an enormous conspiracy that I was caught up in. I was toeing the company line.” He described himself as “being a very frightened man at the time. I did not know what to do. I’m very sorry for lying at the time.”

Earlier, Evans denied lying when he said that his former editor had reacted with the word “brilliant” to a hacked voicemail obtained from the phone of the actor Daniel Craig, but said he might have paraphrased the exact term used. The message had been left by actress Sienna Miller, who was having an affair with the Bond star.

Andy Coulson (left) knew details of affair between Sienna Miller and Daniel Craig had been obtained illegally, Old Bailey jurors were told Andy Coulson (left) knew details of affair between Sienna Miller and Daniel Craig had been obtained illegally, Old Bailey jurors were told (Getty)

Addressing Evans, Mr Langdale said: “You are prone to making sweeping assertions that are not based on fact,” adding that he took to “blaming others for things you have done.”

Much of Mr Langdale’s questioning was devoted to Evans’ attempts to secure “full immunity” from prosecution if he co-operated with the phone hacking investigation.

The court heard details of negotiations between Evans’ solicitors Peters & Peters and the CPS from 2011 and 2012, in which complete immunity appeared to be his target. He did not succeed.

Evans also said that phone hacking, which he had first started to do at the Sunday Mirror, had led him down a path of alcohol and drug abuse. He told how he had undergone an 18-month period of therapy, and revealed that during his time at the News of the World he used cocaine “every couple of weeks”.

He told the jury: “I was self-medicating.” He said this was because he knew he was doing something “illegal”, adding, “delving deeply into the lives of people who do not deserve it made me unhappy.”

Mr Coulson, along with six others, is accused of conspiracy to phone-hack, bribing public officials, and of involvement in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. All seven defendants deny all charges.

The case continues.  

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power