Dan Evans initially sought immunity from prosecution in exchange for guilty plea and co-operation - Press Gazette

Dan Evans initially sought immunity from prosecution in exchange for guilty plea and co-operation

Hacking trial witness Dan Evans tried and failed to get full immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence about colleagues, a court heard this morning.

Evans has admitted engaging in phone-hacking at the Sunday Mirror and News of the World and has named 10 News of the World journalists who he said had knowledge of hacking.

Talks had been held around whether full immunity under Section 71 of the Serious and Organised Crime Police Act (Socpa) was possible and also the prospect of Section 73 immunity, which would have involved a guilty plea and full co-operation in the hope of getting a reduced sentence.

Andy Coulson's QC Timothy Landgale pointed out to Evans that by August 2012: "You were ready to do just about anything to get your Section 71 immunity."

Evans told the court: "I was ready to move forward with the situation I was in."

In talks with his legal team, Evans had stated that "full immunity is the only thing I am after".

He told the court today that this was his position "for a long time".

By September it became clear that Section 71 immunity was not likely and that prosecutors had completely ruled it out by January 2013, the court heard.

A letter from the Crown Prosecution Service to Evans's legal team in January, read out by Langdale, noted: "Were he (Evans) to give evidence (against) others charged he would be vulnerable to the charge that he had made up all this in order to exculpate himself and blame others.

"There is a real possibility he could weaken the prosecution case should this course of action be adopted.

Asked by Langdale about how the search for immunity fitted in with Evans's earlier statement that he wanted to be able to look his children in the eye, the reporter said: "As you appreciate, you take guidance from your lawyers."

He said he had felt like he was being "used as a football by all those involved in this game".

Evans claimed that he felt accepting a Section 73 agreement was not really an option. Referring to a note from his lawyers about a Section 73 offer, the court was told he replied: "Please reject the offer. We should waste no time with this."

He told the court: "It was a situation where I felt there was no stomach to take the investigation forward. It went against the advice that I was having from the outset."

Langdale suggested this was "an example of you blaming others".

Describing it as a "misunderstanding", Evans replied: "The misunderstanding was that there was ever a Section 71 agreement possible. I understand now that a Section 71 agreement is usually only ever given to people who are saving lives."

He claimed this had not been made clear to him from the beginning.

The court heard that, in August last year, Evans signed up to an agreement to give police a full briefing on his involvement in hacking, enter guilty pleas, and agree to give evidence in court if needed.

Asked by Langdale why he did not just leave the NoW if he was so unhappy, Evans said: "I didn't want to be turned away with my tail between my legs. I wanted to be a success at it. I became a father. I was too worried about money. [A senior NoW journalist] knocked my confidence pretty hard."

Langdale suggested there was nothing to stop him leaving, but Evans said: "There's nothing to stop me jumping off a bridge but I didn't do that."

Evans insisted hacking was an "open secret" in the office.

"I was conscious that what I was doing was wrong. It was widely known, it was widely held this was going on.

"Other reporters asked me to do things on their behalf, usually at the behest of the desk."

Pressed on the subject again, he repeated: "I did not broadcast it because that would have been crass but everybody knew."

Raising his voice slightly, Evans said: "The truth is that Andy Coulson knew exactly what was going on on his watch."



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.