Dan Evans admits 'sticky keys defence' lie about phone-hacking but insists evidence against Coulson is the truth - Press Gazette

Dan Evans admits 'sticky keys defence' lie about phone-hacking but insists evidence against Coulson is the truth

Former tabloid reporter Dan Evans has been challenged in court over his allegation that his boss at the News of the World exclaimed "Brilliant!" when he heard a tape of actress Sienna Miller's voicemail message to Bond star Daniel Craig.

Evans, who admits hacking at the Sunday tabloid, claims his then editor, Andy Coulson, knew about his activities and even told him to create a ruse that a tape recording of the message had been handed in anonymously.

On his third day in the witness box at the Old Bailey, Evans was cross-examined by Coulson's lawyer, Timothy Langdale QC.

The barrister asked: "Yesterday you told this court Mr Coulson, when you played the tape voicemail message of Sienna Miller, to you said 'Brilliant!'. Is that truthful evidence?"

Evans replied: "That is truthful. The exact word may be paraphrasing."

Langdale said: "You have got a bit of a habit of doing that."

Evans joined the News of the World in 2005 after he was poached from the Sunday Mirror.

The court heard that Evans has already admitted conspiracy to hack phones at the Sunday Mirror between February 2003 and January 2005, and the same offence at the News of the World between April 2004 and June 2010.

He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between January 2008 and June 2010, and perverting the courtse of justice by giving a false statement in High Court proceedings.

Former NoW editor Coulson, 46, a PR consultant from Charing, Kent, denies conspiring to hack phones and conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

All seven defendants, including former Sun and NotW editor Rebekah Brooks, deny all the charges against them.

Evans initially lied when he was caught trying to hack into designer Kelly Hoppen's phone.

When questioned about the lie, he insisted he was just "toeing the line" at the time but now "I appear to be open, honest and truthful".

He added: "I bitterly regret I did not take a braver course of action at the time."

Langdale accused Evans of "blaming others for things you have done at the time", to which he replied: "I would not say so, sir."

Evans was arrested in August 2011 and produced a prepared statement for police.

He told the court that statement was "cobblers" and he had just been "maintaining the lie".

He had claimed what Langdale described as "the sticky keys defence" – that his Nokia phone has faulty keys.

Langdale put it to Evans that by December 2011 he had been seeking immunity from prosecution.

"That was your target. To try to get away without being prosecuted at all?" Mr Langdale asked.

Evans agreed.

Evans admitted the fact that he had lied about hacking Ms Hoppen's phone was "the fly in the ointment" to securing immunity from prosecution.

He said: "As I say, I was a very frightened man at the time. I did not know what to do. I'm very sorry for lying at the time."

Evans was quizzed as to why he had made a statement that hacking was discussed at editorial conferences when in fact these were meetings he did not attend personally

The witness replied that he was told by a colleague when he came out of conference.

Langdale said: "You are prone to making sweeping assertions that are not based on fact."

He replied: "That is not correct, sir, even though I can imagine why you would want people to think that."

On the prospect of Evans getting immunity, Langdale said: "You would have had to have information about people at senior levels and if you did that you might be a good candidate for getting immunity from prosecution for yourself."

Evans replied: "Yes."

Langdale went on to ask Evans about the taped voicemail from Miller to Craig and the allegation Coulson know about it, saying: "I suggest to you that is not true."

Evans replied: "I did not see you there at the time. It is true."

Langdale read from papers relating to the talks Evans had with his legal team about his potential involvement in the hacking trial.

The court heard Evans had said: "My ultimate goal is that there is not evidence against me and prosecution."

He said he "did not want to go down this route" and did "not want to lose control".

Evans told the jury: "That's right – I did not want to go through this process. I was in denial."

As negotiations continued for immunity, Evans told solicitors that he had hacked the phones of celebrity Cilla Black, racing driver Jenson Button and at least one other, the court heard.

Evans told police that he had wanted to "look his children in the eye" and get back on the right path in life.

In a police interview in July 2012, which was read out in court, Evans said he had always been passionate about his "craft".

But he said: "I can pinpoint the moment many years ago I took the wrong path.

"I want to look my kids in the eye and tell them they need to be honest… I want to go down my life on the right path."



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