Stuart Kuttner, managing editor of the NoW for 22 years until 2009 where his duties included overseeing its £30m editorial budget, said that he placed “a high degree of trust” in its staff.
Mr Kuttner, who denies a charge of conspiring to hack phones, said he had not known about any payments to police officers for information or that the paper’s £100,000-a-year private detective Glenn Mulcaire was hacking phones.
Cross-examining the veteran newsman, Andrew Edis QC, for the Crown, asked him: “What we’re really talking about here is money and you’re suggesting you used to do that simply on trust?”, to which Mr Kuttner, 74, replied: “Absolutely, sir.”
Mr Edis continued: “Without making any real inquiries about who was getting it…?”
Mr Kuttner replied: “That’s right.”
“…Or who is was for?”, to which the journalist replied: “Correct.”
Referring to what Mr Kuttner told the Old Bailey was his main concern, Mr Edis asked how he had obtained “value for money.”
Mr Kuttner told the court: “My method was to check the budget as a whole, but I’m not a naturally suspicious person and I had no reason to believe that my colleagues are duping their newspaper or their employers.”
Mr Edis asked: “How can you be sure that the newspaper was getting value for money if you cannot be sure who is getting it and what it was for?”
Mr Kuttner told the court: “Who is getting it is a separate point. But the more important point is that if you have a journalist who is a defence correspondent you trust him to work in the area…”
The jury was shown statement to the police in 2011 by ex-News of the World and Sun editor Rebekah Brooks in which she said her managing editors exercised “operational management responsibility”, and that their budgetary responsibilities include “monitoring and auditing” payments.
“Operational management responsibility” was “too wide a phrase,” Mr Kuttner said, adding: “I’m not sure about monitoring and auditing; they’re not terms I would apply.”
Mr Kuttner, who told the court this morning that he was “appalled” to learn later that Mulcaire had been hacking, said he had believed he was doing legitimate detective work:
“I was told he was, or rather NineConsultancy [Mulcaire’s company] was providing private investigator services; that is to say surveillance, tracking down people, CCJs, electoral roll checks and a number of other things. That was my understanding. My understanding, at the time, was that by using this money and his services, it would save a considerable sum of money.”
Mr Edis asked: “Did you ever see any evidence that he had done anything at all for his £100,000 a year?’
Mr Kuttner replied: “I never saw evidence as such, and I never sought any.”
Mr Kuttner, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson deny conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006. The case continues.