On the day a serial hacker from the News of the World claimed to have played an illegally obtained voicemail recording to Andy Coulson on the newsroom floor of the paper’s Wapping headquarters, Mr Coulson was not in London, the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey has heard.
Dan Evans, a staff reporter on the now-shuttered tabloid, had claimed Mr Coulson had been “animated” when he heard the message hacked from the mobile phone of James Bond actor, Daniel Craig.
Evans had claimed the tape was played to Mr Coulson late on the afternoon of the first working day of the Sunday tabloid’s working week, Tuesday 27 September 2005.
Evans also told the court that Mr Coulson had enthusiastically responded to the recording of Sienna Miller leaving a message for Mr Craig who she was having an affair with. Evans claimed the recording had Ms Miller saying she was in the “Groucho Club" in London's Soho with her then partner, the actor Jude Law. She finished the brief message by offering her love to Mr Craig.
The voicemail was claimed by Evans to have been left by Ms Miller on the evening of Saturday, 24 September 2005.
Questioned by Mr Coulson’s counsel, Timothy Langdale QC, the court was told that Mr Coulson “wasn’t in the office at all". on 27 September. “And wasn’t even in London.”
Ms Miller is scheduled to be questioned later by video link from the United States. Mr Langdale also put it to Evans that the actress was not in the Groucho at the time he claimed.
Responding to the apparent contradictions in the timelines he had described to the court, Evans insisted he had played the tape to Mr Coulson with other senior journalists on the paper present at the time. He said “If you [Mr Langdale] are saying he wasn’t there, and was in a different part of the country, then my recollection must be flawed.”
The court heard that another senior journalist, alleged to be present when the tape was played to Mr Coulson, was also not in London at the time.
Evans said, and repeated several times to the court, that “This does not alter the fact that I played this tape to Andy and the remarks he made happened. “
Evans admitted he may have got the day of the week wrong and that “perhaps” the events he described may have taken place on the Wednesday or Thursday of the same week.
On the Groucho date, Evans stuck by what he said and claimed it was what he believed and couldn’t comment further.
Responding to Mr Langdale’s line of questioning which suggested to Evans that “nothing happened on Tuesday 27” in the way he had claimed, Evans directly told the barrister “Bring it on.”
Evans previously told the court that the hacked Craig-Miller voicemail had resulted in a major news operation being ordered by the editor and other senior journalists to confirm and gather further details on the affair story.
Mr Langdale took the court through call data and internal emails between senior journalists obtained from News International. This related to the week beginning 27 September, 2005.
Evans was asked why the material showed no signs of himself or others at the NOTW being engaged in the tabloid-style major operation he claimed had been ordered after Mr Coulson heard the Craig-Miller hack.
Mr Langdale asked why none of the work Evans was engaged in related to the big hacking story he claimed to have brought in? Evans told the court that at the NOTW: “You were always juggling.”
Evans has pleaded guilty to phone hacking over the seven-year period he was staff on both the Sunday Mirror and the NOTW.
Mr Coulson is charged with conspiracy to phone hack, bribing public officials and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He denies all charges.
Six others in the trial, including Rebekah Brooks, News International former chief executive, are charged with hacking-related offences. All deny the charges against them.
The case continues.