Day 49, Part 2: A long-serving News of the World reporter has admitted making mistakes in his allegations about Andy Coulson’s involvement in phone hacking. At the start of his four-day testimony this week and in his police statement, Dan Evans said he had played the message left by Sienna Miller to Mr Coulson and another journalist at the NoW’s offices in Wapping on Tuesday 27 September 2005.
However today Mr Coulson’s lawyer, Timothy Langdale QC, told the Old Bailey that Mr Coulson was not present in the office or even in London that day – and, he added, nor was the other executive.
Evans – who was employed by the News of the World for seven years – Evans replied: “My recollection must be flawed. Maybe it was the following day… but it doesn’t alter the fact that it happened.” He also admitted getting “other elements” of his evidence wrong.
Evans’s has entered into an agreement with the CPS to give evidence in the case and his allegation that he played the Sienna Miller message to Mr Coulson is central to its case that he conspired to hack emails while at the Sunday tabloid.
According to Evans – having been told by a senior journalist to find a front-page story or throw himself off a cliff – he spent a weekend hacking the voicemails “of everyone I could think of hacking.” In actor Daniel Craig’s inbox, he said, he heard a declaration of love from Ms Miller, who was in a relationship with Jude Law.
After playing the recording to Mr Coulson, Evans said that the editor suggested a copy of the recording be made, put into a Jiffy bag and dropped off at a front desk at Wapping – to cover the paper’s tracks. In his police statement, Evans said that another journalist had taken the duplicate recording to “the safe in Andy’s office.”
But in a series of tense exchanges with the witness, who was told by the judge “to answer questions sensibly”, Mr Langdale told Evans that Mr Coulson’s office did not have a safe. Evans insisted there had been a safe at the NoTW in which incriminating material was stored for use as “leverage” against newsworthy individuals, adding: “It was the stuff of legend…. maybe it was [in another executive’s] office?”
Mr Langdale said: “Is this just another example of your storytelling – in the sense of fiction – by you?” “It isn’t” Evans responded, though he conceded of his evidence “some times certain elements of it are apparently not true.” In his four days in the witness box, Evans has – in his own words, “consistently” – maintained that he did play the recording to Mr Coulson.
Mr Coulson, who later became director of communications for the Government, denies conspiracy to intercept voicemail. The trial continues.