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Ex-tabloid reporter reveals 'dark arts' at hacking trial

Former tabloid reporter Dan Evans gave evidence today at the Old Bailey. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

A former tabloid reporter has revealed to the phone-hacking trial how the "dark arts" were used by newspapers to secure stories.

Dan Evans told the Old Bailey he was recruited from the Sunday Mirror to join the News of the World partly because of his knowledge of phone hacking.

He said he was approached by staff from the News of the World three times before he finally resigned from the Sunday Mirror in October 2004 and left three months later.

He said in evidence:

I was bringing phone hacking techniques and methodology. I was bringing a pretty lengthy list of phone hacking targets. People whose voicemails had been intercepted, general skills to perpetuate that activity.

On one of those occasions, Evans told the court he met with former News of the World senior reporter James Weatherup and another NoTW staff member who cannot be named.

Evans said: "He sat down and said 'I know you can screw phones, what else can you do?'"

To which Evans, 38, replied: "Quite a lot, actually. I told him I was an investigative reporter."

Former Senior News of the World reporter James Weatherup. Credit: Press Association

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 course of justice by giving a false statement in High Court proceedings.

Evans told the jury that he was involved in hacking at the Sunday Mirror for about a year and a half from 2003 when he was given a staff job, but it had been going on before that.

Mr Evans told the court about the 'Kerching moment' when he met Andy Coulson at a hotel to discuss a job at the NOTW for the third time.

He said: "I told him about my background, the sort of stories I had been doing. Almost the sort of stuff I had been through before."

Following prompting by the other NOTW journalist he had dealt with before, he said: "I got onto voicemails and interception and I told him I had a lot of commercially sensitive data in my head and how things worked at the Sunday Mirror and I could bring him big exclusive stories cheaply which was the kerching moment. Bring exclusive stories cheaply equals job."

Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/Press Association Images

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", Mr Evans said.

On his first day, he came armed with a suggestion for an investigative story about a soldier selling a Browning gun.

Instead he was taken into a meeting room and handed a contacts list by a NotW journalist, who cannot be named, the court heard.

Among the names on the list shown to the jury were: Heather McCartney, Esther Rantzen, Chris Evans, Ed Balls, Ronnie Biggs, Elle Macpherson, the father of soap star Jessie Wallace, Michael Parkinson, John Leslie, Geri Halliwell and Michael Jackson.

Mr Evans said he was rather "crestfallen" at being given the task. Asked what that task was, he said: "(The journalist) wanted me to hack the interesting names on there."

Former tabloid reporter Dan Evans leaving the Old Bailey. Credit: Press Association

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

He claimed that the newspaper used a company that could provide personal information including phone numbers, credit activity, telephone bills, medical and tax records within three hours.

Most of the NotW features department's budget went on paying for stories like kiss and tells, Mr Evans told the jury.

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

Andy Coulson, 46, of Charing, Kent, former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, 45, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, and former NotW managing editor Stuart Kuttner, 73, of Woodford Green, Essex, deny conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006

Coulson also denies two counts of conspiring with former NotW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, of Addlestone, Surrey, and others to commit misconduct in a public office.

All seven defendants in the case deny the charges against them.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

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