The former managing editor of the News of the World has told a London court that he thought demands for cash from convicted hacker Clive Goodman were “excessive”.
But Stuart Kuttner told the phone hacking trial it was not his responsibility to investigate the circumstances around cash payments to contributors to the Sunday newspaper.
Kuttner, 74, was giving evidence in his defence against the allegation that he was involved in a conspiracy at the Sunday newspaper to hack phones.
The trial has previously heard that former royal editor Goodman was convicted of hacking with private detective Glenn Mulcaire in 2006.
Mulcaire was on a STG92,000 ($A165,825) contract at the NotW, which was allegedly concealed by being split up into weekly payments, the court has heard.
Meanwhile, Mulcaire also entered into a deal with Goodman for which he was paid cash under the alias David Alexander, the jurors have been told.
Before his retirement four yours ago, Kuttner confirmed his responsibilities as managing editor did include approving cash payments and keeping the newspaper on budget.
But in his evidence, Kuttner said he had “no recollection of any dealings with Glenn Mulcaire”, and described Goodman as “an enigma”.
His lawyer, Jonathan Caplan QC, asked: “If a contract came to you from the news desk where the weekly spending was within your authority or within a sum less than 50,000 a week, what would happen?”
Kuttner replied: “I do not think I needed to go higher up the chain of authority.”
On his relationship with Goodman, he said: “I think my concern about Clive was he did not want to go out on a story, which seemed to be a thing that journalists should do.”
He said he and former editor Rebekah Brooks travelled to Paris in his place on one occasion to secure a story.
“Rebekah Brooks was a long-time colleague of mine and I noticed on the report from court weeks ago she spoke of a generation gap and that’s true. I admired her,” he said.
He said she was “ambitious in a perfectly natural way”.
He described Brooks’s successor as NotW editor, Andy Coulson, as “professional” and “focused”.
Kuttner was giving evidence despite suffering ill health. He has had two heart attacks and a stroke in recent years, the Old Bailey heard.
He began his evidence in place of Goodman, who was still too unwell to continue with his cross-examination, the jury was told.
Kuttner denies conspiring with Brooks, Coulson and others to hack phones between October 3, 2000 and August 9, 2006. His evidence is expected to last for four days.
All seven defendants deny the charges, including Goodman, who is accused of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office in relation to paying officials for stories.