View from inside the Old Bailey: Dan Evans says he is telling the truth now so he can look his kids in the eye

Dan Evans sat in the witness stand for his third day of evidence. Dressed like any self respecting tabloid journalist with cuff links showing from beneath his brown suit and freshly pressed white shirt, he sipped on a glass of water.

Less than 20 feet away sat Andy Coulson, who the court heard previously after a breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs took only ten minutes to offer Evans a job at the News of the World.

Now, amid the wood-panelled walls of court 12 at the Old Bailey, Evans said he wanted to come clean, so he could look his kids in the eye. He wanted a fresh start. He had, he admitted, wanted full immunity once he started helping the police.

Coulson remained impassive as Evans spoke, tapping away on his MacBook Air. Two seats further down, Clive Goodman, his half-moon spectacles sitting on the bridge of his nose, used a quality pen and pad to take a note of proceedings. Unremarkably, both men also wore cufflinks. Only Mark Hanna, former News International security chief, sitting in the corner, appeared to fasten his shirt with a conventional button.

Coulson’s barrister Timothy Langdale QC began his cross-examination briskly,  soon eliciting that Evans’ first prepared statement to police was pure “cobblers” and had been “maintaining a lie”. He also secured an admission that Evans had not been truthful in an earlier civil court case.

The barrister said Evans had made no comment during police questioning, stressing to the jury that this was his right.

Yet, Evans managed to say that Detective Constable O’Mahoney “was a very aggressive interviewer”.

Langdale’s modulated tones contrasted starkly with Evans' north London accent.

In what became known as the “sticky keys defence” Langdale claimed Evans was happy to blame others for his own mistakes.

He replied that he was simply “toeing the party line”, claiming “I bitterly regret I did not take a braver course of action at the time”. Evans claimed that the sticky keys referred to a problem he was having with his Nokia N95.

He said he was now being fully open and transparent.

Probing, Langdale suggested: “You are prone to make sweeping assertions that are not based on fact?”

Instantly, Evans replied: “That is not true, sir.”

The jury of nine women and three men were then brought through the intricacies of the Serious and Organised Crime Police Act of 2005.

Langdale quizzed Evans on his motives for helping the prosecution. “You were seeking immunity, complete immunity from any offence?”

“In an ideal world, yes,” he replied, taking another sip from his glass of water.

The jury heard how Evans was debriefed for three days by senior officers under the belief that full immunity from prosecution was possible under Section 71 of the Act.

Yet, Langdale said the Crown Prosecution Service decided against immunity because Evans’ value as a witness would be “almost worthless” and “extremely vulnerable to charges that he had made up evidence … weakening the prosecution case”.

With no offer of complete immunity, Evans said: “I had enough of being used as football in this particular game.”

However, on 23 August 2013, Evans admitted that he signed an agreement with the CPS under Section 73 where he had to admit to his crimes, give evidence in court when required. For this, he will receive consideration when it came to sentencing.

“I now know that Section 71 is only available when people’s lives are at risk or when national security is being threatened. It is for saving lives.”

All of the defendants deny all of the charges.

The trial continues.

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