Appearing as a character witness for Stuart Kuttner, Sara Payne said that had received great help from the News of the World’s managing editor during and after the paper’s anti-paedophile For Sarah campaign.
She also praised Rebekah Brooks, saying that she was “sweet natured” and could be called upon at any time to provide comfort and advice.
Mrs Payne, recalling how she had met Mr Kuttner after her daughter’s disappearance and that he had helped her through subsequent illnesses, told the Old Bailey: “Stuart is a gentleman.”
“He is everything my parents taught me about being a gentleman: about having manners and good etiquette. He’s a good guy.”
Asked by Mr Kuttner’s QC Jonathan Caplan whether she rated his integrity highly, Mrs Payne told the jury: “I absolutely do.”
She said that Mrs Brooks was “personally very sweet,” adding that she was a straight-talker who addressed issues directly.
Ending his four days in the witness stand, Mr Kuttner said that he could not recall what he had known in April 2002 about the News of the World’s acquisition of a voicemail message left on Milly Dowler’s phone. In an email to Surrey police, shown to the jury earlier in the trial, Mr Kuttner had asked detectives about the voicemail.
Andrew Edis QC, asked whether Mr Kuttner had known that the message had been obtained by the paper “by hacking voicemail messages”?
“Well, by whatever method it was obtained,” the journalist replied.
Mr Edis continued: “You must have known that somebody had unlawfully intercepted this phone”, to which Mr Kuttner – who frequently said he could not remember events because of a medical condition – replied: “I don’t accept that, sir.”
Mr Kuttner said: “I have no recollection how we had that information.”
He denies conspiring to hacking voicemails. The trial is due to continue on Monday.