Self-confessed phone-hacker Dan Evans told Andy Coulson he could “bring in exclusive stories cheaply” by targeting phones, a court has heard.
Evans told the Old Bailey that he attended an informal job interview with Coulson, and a News of the World reporter who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The hotel breakfast meeting was the third time Evans had met with News of the World staff in advance of his departure from the Sunday Mirror.
Upon meeting Coulson, Evans said: “I told him about my background, the sort of stories I had been doing. Almost the sort of stuff I had been through before."
Following prompting by the other journalist he had dealt with before, he said: "I got onto voicemails and interception and I told him I had a lot of commercially sensitive data in my head and how things worked at the Sunday Mirror and I could bring him big exclusive stories cheaply which was the kerching moment. Bring exclusive stories cheaply equals job."
One way to bring in exclusive stories cheaply was to listen to someone's voicemails and work out who they were having a relationship with, he said.
That would "shift units from supermarket shelves", Evans said.
Evans was offered the job the same day and he started at News of the World on 5 January 2005 on a salary of £53,000.
On his first day, Evans came armed with a suggestion for an investigative story about a soldier selling a Browning gun.
Instead he was taken into a meeting room and handed a contacts list by a News of the World journalist who cannot be named.
Among the names were Heather McCartney, Esther Rantzen, Chris Evans, Ed Balls, Ronnie Biggs, Elle Macpherson, the father of soap star Jessie Wallace, Michael Parkinson, John Leslie, Geri Halliwell and Michael Jackson.
Evans said he was rather "crestfallen" at being given the task.
Asked what that task was, he said: "(The journalist) wanted me to hack the interesting names on there."
Asked how many of the numbers he hacked, Evans said there were 80-100 names on the list and his department were spending a "couple of grand a week" on data, including phone numbers.
Evans told the court that he would hack phones "probably most days" while at the News of the World, and that he had accessed voicemails more than 1,000 times.
He claimed that the newspaper used a company that could provide personal information including phone humbers, credit activity, telephone bills, medical and tax records within three hours.
Most of the News of the World's features department's budget went on paying for stories like kiss and tells, Evans told the jury.
He said: "Dark arts were applied to generate leads and tips which would often be locked down with the aid of a cheque book."
Evans told the court that he had been caught trying to access the voicemails of designer Kelly Hoppen.
He said: "I made a fundamental blunder. In a moment of panic I tried to hack her phone and failed miserably and she re-set the security system.
"She received an alert that someone had tried to enter the wrong PIN number in the system."
Hoppen then got a legal order to find out which phone number had called her, and this was Evans' work phone.
He told the court that in the past he would have used a phone that could be discarded, or "a burner", but due to budget constraints and following the conviction of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman for phone hacking in 2007 no longer had access to such handsets.
When asked why he had used his own handset, Evans told the court: "I was a moron."
All of the defendants deny all of the charges.
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.