LONDON — Dan Evans, a former journalist at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper, alleged in court Wednesday that knowledge of phone-hacking was widespread at the tabloid, and that a “very wide conspiracy” existed.

Evans was speaking as a witness at the trial of several former employees of News Corp’s U.K. newspaper division.

When asked about how many people at the News of the World knew about the use of phone hacking by the paper, Evans claimed it was discussed at daily editorial meetings, although he didn’t attend those meetings himself.

“As far as I was concerned it was so widely known, and so extensively, there was a very wide conspiracy within the organization,” he said.

Timothy Langdale, a lawyer representing one of the accused, Andy Coulson, the paper’s former editor and Prime Minister David Cameron’s former media chief, claimed that Evans was only making his allegations as part of a deal with police to avoid prosecution.

“You were ready to do just about anything to get … immunity,” Langdale said to him.

When asked why he had previously lied about his involvement in phone hacking, Evans said: “I was toeing the line, the party line, the company line.”

He added: “I was a very frightened man at the time. I was one person caught between the prime minister, caught between the tabloid world, caught between highly paid lawyers. I didn’t know what to do. I’m very sorry for lying at the time.”