Phone-hacking trial: Coulson 'told about hacking skills'

Ex-Sunday Mirror and NoW reporter Dan Evans leaves the Old Bailey on 27 January Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dan Evans is a former News of the World and Sunday Mirror journalist

A former journalist told ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson about his phone-hacking skills at a job interview, the Old Bailey has heard.

Dan Evans told the phone-hacking trial he was shown how to hack phones at the Sunday Mirror and was recruited by the News of the World for those skills.

Earlier, actor Jude Law learned the News of the World allegedly paid one of his relatives to leak information.

Mr Coulson is one of seven people who deny charges related to phone hacking.

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks also denies charges including conspiracy to hack phones.

'Taught to hack'

Evans said he told Mr Coulson at an informal job interview in a hotel how he could do "stuff with phones" to land cheap exclusives. "Andy knew what the context of it was," he said.

One way to bring in exclusive stories cheaply was to listen to someone's voicemails and work out who they were having a relationship with, he said. That would "shift units from supermarket shelves", Evans said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Press attention increased on Jude Law during his relationship with Sienna Miller

The jury heard Evans, who is appearing as a prosecution witness, had pleaded guilty to hacking at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005 and at the News of the World up to 2010. He also pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office between 2005 and 2010.

Evans also confirmed he had admitted intending to pervert the course of justice.

The court heard he entered into an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service in 2012 and had given two statements since.

Evans said he had been involved in hacking at the Sunday Mirror for about a year-and-a-half from 2003 but it had been going on long before that.

Asked by Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, what his job at the Sunday Mirror was, Mr Evans said: "I was a news reporter. Principally I was tasked with covering news events, investigations, undercover work, latterly with hacking people's voicemail."

Evans said he was taken to aside by a "senior executive" at the Sunday Mirror, who "proceeded to show me how to hack a voicemail for the first time".

He told the court he had been approached by a journalist to join the News of the World (NoW) in 2005. Phone hacking was discussed with the journalist when they first talked about a job at the NoW in a bar, the court heard.

He said: "Voicemail interception became part of the conversation. It was not referred to as phone hacking - that phrase did not exist then."

But he told the court he initially did not want a job there as the journalists' "pet phone hacker", when he wanted to do more investigative work.

Evans told the court how he met senior figures at the NoW - who cannot be named for legal reasons - over "beers" to discuss his move to the paper, including his skills at "voicemail interception".

He turned this job down after being given a pay rise to stay at the Sunday Mirror.

'Standard tool'

However, he said when he did finally join the NoW, after three approaches: "I was bringing phone-hacking techniques and methodology and bringing a list of hacking targets, how voicemails could be intercepted and general skills to perpetuate that activity."

He added: "The methodology of screwing around with people's telephonic data was a pretty standard tool in the tabloid kit."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson denies the charges against him

Evans said that on his first day at the News of the World he was handed a contacts list by a NoW journalist, who cannot be named.

Among the listed names were Heather McCartney, Esther Rantzen, Chris Evans, Ed Balls, Ronnie Biggs, Elle Macpherson, the father of Jessie Wallace, Michael Parkinson, John Leslie, Geri Halliwell and Michael Jackson.

Asked what task he had been given, Evans said the journalist "wanted me to hack the interesting names on there".

Asked how many of the numbers he hacked, he said there were 80 to 100 names on the list and his department was spending a "couple of grand a week" on data, including phone numbers.

Evans told the court that he would hack phones "probably most days" while at the News of the World, and he had accessed voicemails more than 1,000 times.

He said: "Dark arts were applied to generate leads and tips which would often be locked down with the aid of a cheque book."

Mr Law earlier told the trial the media seemed to have "an unhealthy amount of information" about his life. He also said photographers would turn up at places where he had secretly arranged to take his children.

Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, asked him: "When was the first time that you heard the suggestion that a member of your family had passed information to the News of the World for money?"

Mr Law replied: "Today."

The trial, which began at the end of October last year and is due to last until May, was adjourned until Tuesday.

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