Sienna Miller voicemail revealed affair with Bond star Daniel Craig, phone hacking trial hears

Former newspaper editor planned to conceal origin of voicemails used in sensatioinal British newspaper story, court hears

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 11:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 12:56pm

Former News of the World newspaper editor Andy Coulson listened in to a voicemail from the actor Sienna Miller which had been intercepted from the phone of Daniel Craig and then organised a plan to conceal its origin, according to a self-confessed phone-hacker giving evidence at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London on Tuesday

Dan Evans told the jury in the phone-hacking trial that the editor had declared the message “brilliant” and later told him to arrange for a recording of the voicemail to be left in a padded Jiffy bag envelope at the front gate of the News of the World’s office so that it appeared to have come from an anonymous source.

The court has heard that Evans has agreed to give evidence for the prosecution in the trial after admitting that he hacked phones over a seven-year period for the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World. He told the jury that hacking was “referred to regularly” at the News of the World.

Coulson sat in the dock with his chin resting on his right hand as Evans described how he had come to hack Craig’s voicemail in September 2005. He said it had been an unhappy time, he had felt quite bullied at work.

At one point, another journalist had “monstered” him in an email, written entirely in capital letters: “If you don’t come up with a front-page story soon then you might as well jump off a cliff.”

He had gone home that weekend, he told the jury, and “hacked every phone I could possibly think of hacking, and that included one belonging to the actor Daniel Craig, who might be better known as James Bond”.

As he listened to Craig’s messages, he said, he had heard a female voice saying: “Hi. It’s me. Can’t speak. I’m at the Groucho with Jude. I love you.” When he checked the number from which she was calling, he found it belonged to Sienna Miller.

Evans said that over the previous months he had followed the story of Miller’s turbulent relationship with fellow actor Jude Law, who had been exposed for an affair with their nanny. If she was now having an affair with Craig, that was “the next instalment in the soap opera”.

He said he had recorded the voicemail and played it to a colleague in the office, who told him that another reporter on the paper, Mr Z, had already picked up a tip about the affair.

Mr Z had been delighted when he heard about it: “The voicemail was incontrovertible proof that the editor of the News of the World required to run the story.” Evans said there had been excitement about the voicemail in the newspaper’s office. He continued: “Later that day, Andy [Coulson] came over wanting to hear the tape.”

Several other journalists, including Mr Z, were nearby as he played him the message, he claimed. “Certainly, Andy was there. I played the tape. Andy was standing right next to me, listening to the tape.”

Evans was asked how Coulson and the others had reacted. “Andy became very animated – ‘Brilliant.’ Mr Z was ‘Yeah, told you so.’ Everyone is having a bit of an adrenalin kick. They said ‘Good work.’ Another journalist had taken him by the elbow and said ‘You’re a company man now, Dan’.”

A little later, he said, Coulson had called across the room to him with an instruction: “Andy wanted to preserve the tape but not in the original recording, so he said to me basically ‘You need to make a copy of the tape, stick the copy in a Jiffy bag, have it sent down to the front gate, have them ring up and say ‘This has been dropped in anonymously’.’”

Evans told the jury that he had cabled two dictaphones together, made a second recording of the voicemail and then sent it to the front gate. “Mr Z, about 20 minutes later, comes back upstairs with the Jiffy bag with a look of mock surprise: ‘Look what I’ve found!’”

The former News of the World reporter said that he then went to Craig’s north London home to confront him about the affair. Craig had said: “No, no, no. It’s not true. No.” They had held the story back for a further week.

Evans told the court he had continued to monitor Craig’s phone and had heard a message from Jude Law: “He had phoned Daniel and left a voicemail – quite bitchy – and saying ‘Thanks, mate. I hope Saski doesn’t find out.”

Saski, the jury has been told, was the name of Craig’s then girlfriend, Satsuki Mitchell. Evans said he had fed this back to the paper – and the News of the World had then published the story.

Craig had continued to be one of Evans’ targets. Four months later, in February 2006, he said, he had picked up a message on Craig’s phone suggesting that an actor called Eva Green was to be the next Bond girl. He had taken the story into the paper where, he understood, it had been discussed in a regular morning conference, chaired by Coulson.

Afterwards, Mr Z had come up to him and told him that during the conference, Coulson had queried the reliability of the story and been told by a colleague of Evans: “It’s from Dan. It’s from the phones.”

Evans told the jury: “This is in the executive conference in front of the entire executive contingent of the paper.” He had then remonstrated with his colleague, who had replied: “Take your point. Won’t do it again.”

Evans said he could think of 10 individuals at the News of the World who, from his own direct personal knowledge, were aware of phone-hacking.

He claimed that this included Coulson and the then news editor, James Weatherup, who, the court has heard, has admitted conspiring to intercept communications. “It was referred to regularly, daily,” he said.

Evans said that everything had changed on 8 August 2006, when the police arrested the newspaper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, and the newsdesk’s specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire.

There was “a palpable sense of shock” in the office, he said. “Everybody was on tenterhooks. There was a lot of fear and anxiety going around, a lot of people preparing to cover their tracks for all sorts of different privacy-related infringements.”

That morning, as he took the lift up to the newsroom, another journalist had told him: “Goes without saying. No more hookey stuff.”

He said he had understood that this was a reference to hacking and that he had gone to his desk, in the middle of the features department. There he destroyed micro-cassettes with recordings of intercepted voicemail, shredded paperwork containing call data and ripped-up notebooks. He had then taken his master list of target phone numbers and PIN codes, put it in an envelope and hidden it in a friend’s loft.

There the list had stayed, he said, until nearly three years later, in June 2009, when he wanted to check a story that the interior designer Kelly Hoppen was in a relationship with Madonna’s former husband, Guy Ritchie.

“Curiosity killed this particular cat,” he told the jury. He found details for Hoppen, whom he had hacked in the past, but used an out-of-date PIN code, which trigged a security warning sent automatically to Hoppen.

Some nine months later, in March or April 2010, the paper’s managing editor, Bill Akass, called him in and told him that Hoppen was suing. He had felt, he said, “stir-cold shock” and had told Akass he had no recollection of making the calls. He had been taken off frontline reporting and then later sent home on full pay.

Evans has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to intercept communications. He has also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and one count of perverting the course of justice by making a false witness statement about Hoppen.

Coulson denies one count of conspiring to intercept communications and one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

The trial continues.