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Phone Hacking Trial: NOTW journalists often made up quotes, former reporter tells hacking trial – Martin Hickman

News-of-the-World-006Day 49, Part 1: Journalists on the News of the World often made up quotes for publication in stories, former NoTW reporter Dan Evans told the phone hacking trial today. Asked about comments from “friends” of Sienna Miller in a NoTW story, Evans said that it might come as a shock to the court but not everything in a tabloid newspaper was the “nailed-on” truth.

He confessed to fabricating quotes to bulk out a story and “sanitising” comments from hacked voicemails to disguise their origin.

Timothy Langdale QC, for Andy Coulson, asked Evans where he had sourced a quote in the NoTW about Ms Miller receiving “tea and sympathy” after an upset.

Evans, who hacked phones at the paper before becoming a prosecution witness, said he would routinely try to devise plausible-sounding quotes that were likely to escape legal action. He said: “One of the things you try to do when filling out a quote is think:Well, what would they do?’” Irritated by a stream of questions from Mr Langdale, he told the jury: “This is just tabloid quote fluff.”

About a further quote in the story from a “friend” who “revealed”: ‘Poor Sienna was in pieces on Sunday morning. She just didn’t know who to turn to..’, Mr Langdale asked Evans: “Where’s that come from?”. “As I described,” Evans said from the witness box. “A bit of made up ‘friend said’ quotery.”

He told the Old Bailey he would disguise comments he had hacked from voicemails, saying: “I can’t write exactly what’s on the voicemail. I have to clean it up, sanitise it.” Mr Langdale asked: “You’re saying to us that that passage may be just you making this up on the basis of having heard Sienna or her sister in tears leaving a voicemail message?” Evans replied: “Pretty much.”

He had difficulty remembering any specific phone message, he said, explaining: “I did hack thousands of voicemails during the time I was at the News of the World.”

Overnight, however, he said he had realised that a voicemail about Ms Miller being “tearful” may have been left by her sister – rather than Ms Miller herself, as he had stated in his earlier police statement and testimony. Evans said: “I’ll be honest, I don’t have perfect recall about what happened a long time ago but I do want to get things right and I don’t want to mislead anybody.”

Mr Coulson, who edited the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, denies conspiring to hack voicemails. The case continues.

5 Comments

  1. Mike Sivier

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    The reporter’s evidence alleges the kind of behaviour that gives ALL reporters a bad name. As a local weekly AND daily newspaper reporter, I never once fabricated a quotation – it was a line that you simply didn’t cross. If this is true, then reporters across the country should be seeking action against the offending publisher… in my opinion.

  2. Paul Smyth

    Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.

  3. davidhencke

    Reblogged this on David Hencke and commented:
    More interesting stuff about bad journalism including making up quotes as Dan Evans faces a tough cross examination about his evidence.

  4. Florence

    A person I knew was badly affects by the MoS published things apparently said, but in fact had made them up and avoided a legal battle because they had not put the phrases in quotation marks. It was a complete pack of lies, but padded out column inches with total disregard for the consequences for the person affected. The tabloids diminish our press and good journalists.

  5. Chris Gannon

    I have a friend who was living in Ibiza for a while. The locals there generally had a rule about never, ever speaking to tabloid journalists. Being new and therefore naive about this, she spoke to a journalist about life on the island when he said he was doing a story on it, trying to tell him about the good things about living there. They briefly chatted about drugs and she mentioned that, yes while there was drug and crime problems there, it didn’t seem any worse than anywhere else she lived and certainly didn’t make her fear for her safety. By the time the story made it into the paper, they’d made it sound like she was living in fear for her life and that drug gangs were rampant.

    I have another friend who was living in Nottingham. The News of the World were doing a story on his area as there’d been a recent spate of robberies. His girlfriend spoke to a journalist and said to him that while the robberies did concern her, it was actually a very nice area to live in and she had never, ever felt unsafe there. Can you guess where this is going?

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