Starting his evidence in the phone hacking trial, Mr Kuttner told the court that Mr Mulcaire might have contacted him to chase up payments he was owed by the tabloid. Mulcaire was paid £100,000 a year by the News of the World prior to his arrest in 2006 for phone hacking, which led to him being jailed for six months in 2007.
Mr Kuttner, the paper’s managing editor for 22 years until 2009, said that as well as writing leader columns, liaising with the Press Complaints Commission, acting in an ambassadorial role for the paper meeting politicians and chief constables, and taking an “occasional” interest in news stories that “chimed in some way with the philosophy of the paper”, his job included overseeing its editorial budget. As part of that, he said, he would approve contributor payments requests and requests for cash payments.
But, in answer to questions from his counsel, Jonathan Caplan, QC, he said that since such requests had generally already been signed by departmental heads he would only occasionally challenge them, when they looked wrong or excessive.
Turning to his relationships with others at the News of the World, Mr Caplan, asked: “Prior to his arrest in 2006 did you have any dealings with Glen Mulcaire?”
Mr Kuttner replied:
“I am loathe to say I had no dealings, but I have no recollection of any dealings with Glenn Mulcaire. As far as I know I have only seen him once sitting in a dock in court. It’s possible that he might have telephoned me as managing editor – as other people were wont to do -and said: ‘When can I expect some payments’, but otherwise I don’t think so.”
Mr Kuttner denies conspiring to hack phones. The trial continues.