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Even 'office cat' knew about hacking, ex-journalist testifies

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
updated 5:58 AM EST, Thu January 30, 2014
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson arrives at the phone-hacking trial in London on January 27, 2014.
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson arrives at the phone-hacking trial in London on January 27, 2014.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reporter tells court he was hired for his phone hacking skills at now-defunct tabloid
  • Reporter has confessed to hacking into actor Daniel Craig's voice mail
  • Ex-tabloid editor among seven on trial accused of phone hacking crimes
  • Phone hacking trial of former News of the World editors under way in London

London (CNN) -- Even "the office cat" knew about phone hacking at News of the World, a former journalist at the tabloid insisted in court Wednesday, testifying that his phone hacking skills were the main reason former Editor Andy Coulson hired him.

"Coulson knew it," said Dan Evans, who confessed on the stand this week to hacking into actor Daniel Craig's voice mail and finding out that actress Sienna Miller was having an affair with the James Bond star. She was seeing actor Jude Law at the time.

Coulson, who became British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman after resigning from the tabloid over an earlier hacking scandal, is one of seven people on trial accused of phone hacking and related crimes in London. He denies the charges.

News of the World owner Rupert Murdoch shut the paper down in the summer of 2011 in the face of public fury over its journalists listening to private voice mails, including those of a missing teenager Milly Dowler. Dowler later was found to have been murdered.

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Police investigations suggest that thousands of people, from celebrities and politicians to crime and terror victims, were targeted by News of the World phone hacking.

Testy exchanges

Coulson's attorney, Timothy Langdale, spent Wednesday grilling Evans about subjects from the mechanics of phone hacking to his efforts to get immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony.

The exchanges got testy at times, such as when Langdale said there was nothing to stop Evans from looking for another job if he was unhappy at News of the World.

"There was nothing to stop me jumping off a bridge either, but I didn't do that," Evans shot back.

Langdale pressed Evans on why he left the Sunday Mirror for the News of the World, questioning Evans' explanation that he wanted to stop hacking phones.

Evans said he was so unhappy at the paper that he turned to alcohol and cocaine.

"Was all that because of the hacking you had to do?" Langdale asked.

"Carrying an enormous secret made me unhappy, and delving into the lives of people who didn't deserve it made me unhappy," Evans testified.

But he continued hacking phones at News of the World, he testified, saying it was "absolutely" the reason Coulson hired him.

Craig's phone hacked

On Tuesday, Evans said he had played Coulson a voice mail left by Miller for Craig while she was at a club with Law, and that Coulson had said: "Brilliant!"

Langdale pressed him Wednesday on whether Coulson had said that.

"The exact word 'brilliant' may have been paraphrasing," Evans said.

"You've gotten into the habit of paraphrasing, haven't you?" Langdale shot back.

A similar exchange came later Wednesday morning when Langdale attacked Evans' assertion that phone hacking was discussed at the main weekly News of the World news meeting.

Evans conceded that his account was based on hearsay from a colleague.

"You're prone to making sweeping assertions which are not based in fact, aren't you?" the defense lawyer demanded.

"That is not correct, sir, although I understand why you might want people to think that," Evans said.

Coulson was editor of the paper in 2006 when its royal correspondent was arrested for conspiracy to hack phones. The correspondent, Clive Goodman, later pleaded guilty. Coulson then resigned, always denying he knew of the hacking.

Then Cameron, the British Conservative party leader, hired Coulson to be his top communications adviser. Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010.

At the height of the phone hacking furor in July 2011, Cameron said he would make a profound apology if it turned out that Coulson had lied about his knowledge of phone hacking.

The hacking allegations prompted Cameron to set up an independent inquiry, led by Lord Justice Leveson, to make recommendations on journalistic ethics and examine the relationship of the media with the public, police and politicians.

READ: Ex-reporter: UK PM's former media chief heard hacked Daniel Craig message

READ: Report: Kate Middleton's phone hacked, court told

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