Ex-reporter hacked phones 1,000 times

January 28, 2014 - 5:25:01 am
London: A former reporter at the News of the World has told how he hacked phones a thousand times after he was handed a list of celebrity numbers when he joined the paper in 2005, the Old Bailey has heard.

Dan Evans, who has pleaded guilty to intercepting voice messages at the News of the World, told the phone hacking jury yesterday that he was given cash to buy pay-as-you-go phones that were nicknamed “burners”. These, he explained, were phones used for “illicit activities” and would be destroyed or “burned” after two to three months.

Asked how often he hacked between his start date on the paper in January 2005 and the arrest of the paper’s then royal editor, Clive Goodman, for hacking-related offences in August 2006, Evans replied: “Probably most days, there might have been the odd lull.”

Evans has also pleaded guilty to hacking phones while at the Sunday Mirror. 

He is the first journalist to plead guilty to hacking phones while working for a paper other than the News of the World.

The journalist told the jury that he started hacking phones after he was made a staff reporter at the Sunday Mirror and carried out this activity for about “a year and a half”.

Evans, who has pleaded guilty to hacking phones at the News of the World up to 2010, described how “there was an explicit lockdown in the dark arts” following Goodman’s arrest and there had been a gap of “years and years” before he started again.

He said he stopped using the burner phones and just starting using the company phones. “It was just easier. The culture there was pretty blase about this kind of thing bizarrely.”

When Evans started at the News of the World, his new boss handed him a list of hundreds of celebrity numbers including those of Simon Cowell, Cilla Black and Zoe Ball.

Evans said he was given the numbers “because he wanted me to hack the interesting names 

on it”. He had “a crack” at getting into around 100 of them, but with repeat calls to voicemails included, he probably hacked phones “1,000 [times] plus, more”.

Evans was also given cash to buy “burner” phones.

He explained: “They were called burner phones because after a while I’d burn them.”

Evans told how he learned the practice of “pretext blagging”, which involved ringing a mobile phone operator or another company and impersonating a staff member from credit control or a similar department.

He told the jury that “pretty much any private data” was available “on demand” at the News of the World including mobile phone numbers, mobile phone bills, credit card numbers, medical records and tax records.

The Guardian