Giving evidence at the phone hacking trial, Mr Kuttner described himself as an “old-fashioned” journalist who believed in traditional newsgathering, such as checking Companies House and the electoral roll.
He is charged with conspiring to hack phones at the Sunday tabloid between 2000 and 2006, during which time staff made at least 6,000 hacking calls to mobile phone voicemails.
Mr Kuttner’s counsel, Jonathan Caplan QC, asked his client about a series of emails sent by the NoW royal editor Clive Goodman to other executives chasing cash payments to police officers guarding the royal family.
The payments were made to sources recorded in the accounts as “Farrish” and “Anderson”, who have not been traced by the police.
Asked whether he could remember discussing the payments to “Farrish” and “Anderson”, Mr Kuttner said: “No specific conversation.”
The 74-year-old went on:
“This is reconstruction. It’s possible there were higher [than usual] payments which I might have challenged but I don’t have any recollection, as such.”
Mr Kuttner added that he would not have approved the payments (which Mr Goodman had emailed editor Andy Coulson were for palace policemen).
Mr Kuttner told the Old Bailey: “If Clive Goodman or anyone else had asked me to pay a palace policeman I would have told them to clear off.”
Asked about a payment of £1,000 in 2003 to obtain a royal phone directory, Mr Kuttner, in overall charge of the paper’s budget, said: “Maybe it’s my old fashioned way. I would have rejected it out of hand.”
He also said he did not know about cash payments made by Mr Goodman to the phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire, which were recorded on the paperwork as being for a confidential royal source, “Alexander.”
Asked by Mr Caplan: “Do you recall any conversation with Mr Goodman about these payments?”, Mr Kuttner told the court: “No.
“It’s possible I may have challenged some… I would have had a conversation like: ‘Why are you paying this?’ or: ‘Is it necessary to pay this?’ – but I don’t recall any.”
In 2006, Mr Kuttner suggested cutting the £100,000-a-year budget to Mulcaire’s research company NineConsultancy in half.
Asked why he had suggested the 50% cut, Mr Kuttner told the court:
“I grew up in the reporting age when one made one’s own inquiries. And if you needed to check someone up on the electoral register you went to the town hall… We live in an age now when all this is done online by research or researchers, and I thought there was money to be saved there.”
Asked why Mulcaire’s budget had not been reduced, Mr Kuttner replied: “I must have been persuaded not to make that cut.”
Asked: “Can you remember the circumstances in which you might have been persuaded about that,” he said: “I’m afraid, I don’t.”
The court heard that Mr Kuttner again proposed cuts to Mulcaire’s budget in 2006.
Mr Caplan said: “The payments were not stopped. Do you know why that was?”, to which his client replied: “I don’t know.”
Mr Kuttner, Rebekah Brooks, editor of the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, and Andy Coulson, editor between 2003 and 2007, deny conspiring to hack phones. Mr Kuttner is due to continue his evidence tomorrow.