Day 48, Part 1: Self-confessed phone hacker Dan Evans admitted lying when he was giving evidence to a court about his attempted voicemail interception of a News of the World target, the Old Bailey heard today.
Challenged by Andy Coulson’s barrister, Timothy Langdale, QC, that he had lied when he signed a witness statement blaming “sticky keys” for calling Kelly Hoppen’s inbox, Evans replied: “I did lie.” He said he had been caught up in an “enormous conspiracy” to hide the truth of hacking at the paper, he told the court.
Ms Hoppen had obtained a court order identifying Evans’s phone as the one that called her voicemail inbox. When she complained to the News of the World, Evans had told the paper’s managing editor, Bill Akass, that his phone was not working well and sometimes the keys stuck.
He added that the phrase had been “seized on” by News International and included in a witness statement drafted by its lawyers contesting Ms Hoppen’s High Court claim for breach of privacy.
He said: “I was toeing the line, the party line, the company line.” Evans agreed with Mr Langdale that there had been nothing to stop him from challenging the false statement and saying: “That isn’t what happened.” He said: “There was nothing to stop me and I bitterly regret that I didn’t take a braver course of action at the time.”
Under questioning from Mr Langdale, Evans said he had been “paraphrasing” when he said yesterday that Mr Coulson had responded with the word “brilliant” when listening to a hacked voicemail message. “It’s truthful evidence,” he said. “The general context of the exact word ‘brilliant’ was paraphrasing the kind of thing he was saying.”
The court heard Evans waived legal privilege over his discussions with his former solicitors Peters & Peters, allowing the trial access to his attempts to obtain immunity from prosecution in return for giving evidence.
Evans, who has pleaded guilty to phone hacking and is giving evidence for the prosecution against his former NoTW colleagues, told the court he had done so in order to be “open and transparent.”
Mr Langdale read out extracts from the discussions, showing that Evans had been told by the Crown Prosecution Service that they required him to give evidence against senior journalists in order to consider making an agreement with him.
In the end, the court heard, the CPS decided against giving him immunity because one of its senior lawyers feared such a deal would render Evans’s evidence “worthless” and could even be counter-productive.
Evans then initially held out against co-operating with the police, but changed his mind after changing his solicitor – leading Mr Langdale to tell him: “This is another instance of you blaming others for the predicament you find yourself in…”
Mr Coulson, former NoTW editor Rebekah Brooks and former NotW managing editor Stuart Kuttner deny conspiring to hack voicemails.
The case continues.