Former tabloid editor Andy Coulson was not even in London on the day he supposedly listened to an illegally intercepted voice mail in the east London office of the News of the World, a jury at the Old Bailey heard on Thursday.
Dan Evans, a former Sunday Mirror reporter, who admits hacking phones over a seven-year period, told the central criminal court in London he played Coulson the message – on which, he claimed, Sienna Miller was heard declaring her love for Daniel Craig – in the paper’s features department on Tuesday 27 September 2005.
In bruising exchanges, Timothy Langdale QC, barrister for Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World and one-time director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “Mr Coulson was not in the office at all that day. He was not even in London that day.”
Evans said that had always been his memory. “If you are saying that he definitely wasn’t there and he was in a different part of the country, then my memory must be flawed. Maybe it was the next day, but my memory has always been that it was the same day. It doesn’t alter the fact that the playing of the tape, and the remarks made, happened.”
Asked whether he was saying the incident could have occurred on the Wednesday or Thursday instead, Evans replied: “It might have been. My feeling is that it would have been the Wednesday, the earlier date, although clearly my recollection hasn’t been perfect on the day that it happened. But happen it did.”
The clash came on Evans’s fourth day in the witness box at the phone-hacking trial, as Langdale challenged details in his account of the Craig voicemail.
Evans has told the jury that a female he identified as Miller had left a message the previous Saturday evening, saying: “Hi. It’s me. Can’t speak. I’m at the Groucho with Jude. I love you.”
Langdale told him: “Sienna Miller wasn’t in the Groucho club on the Saturday.” Evans replied: “Well, you know, the message said: ‘I’m in the Groucho with Jude.’” Evans has said that he hacked the message during the following 48 hours.
Langdale said: “You didn’t hack Daniel Craig on the Sunday or the Monday.”
Evans: “Yes, I did.” The barrister then asked: “You’re sticking to that?” “I’m not here to make things up. This isn’t a fun experience for me,” Evans said.
Langdale then showed the jury a schedule of calls to Craig’s mobile phone number, which had been made from Evans’ mobile or office number. Evans agreed that these were hacks or attempted hacks.
The barrister said that the schedule showed no evidence of a hack on either the Sunday or Monday in question. Evans replied that he also frequently hacked Craig’s phone by calling a special voicemail retrieval number, which did not figure on the schedule.
Langdale also challenged Evans over the detail of an earlier story in which he reported that Miller had been in tears over reports that Law had had an affair with their nanny.
Evans has pleaded guilty to two counts of intercepting communications, at the Sunday Mirror and News of the World, one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, and one count of perverting the course of justice.
Coulson denies one count of conspiring to intercept communications and one count of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.
The trial continues.