Mr Coulson, who edited Britain’s best-selling Sunday paper for three years, said he had no memory of receiving the requests for £1,000 in 2003 and £750 in 2005 for copies of Buckingham Palace phone directories.
Mr Coulson, who denies two charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office while editing the News of the World, responded to the requests from reporter Clive Goodman by writing: “Fine”.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey for the third week, Mr Coulson told the jury that Mr Goodman often made “exaggerated” claims and added that he did not believe that he had actually paid any police police officers.
The court has heard that following Mr Goodman’s requests, £1,000 and £750 were paid out by the News of the World to individuals named by him, and detectives investigating phone hacking found royal phones books at his home in 2006.
But the names and addresses of two individuals he put down in News International’s financial records as receiving the cash were false and no police officers have been traced in relation to the payments.
Mr Goodman told the trial that he used false names to protect other journalists, who he said had supplied the directories to him.
Asked about Mr Goodman’s first request in 2003, Mr Coulson told the Old Bailey: “I have to make clear that I don’t remember these emails; I don’t remember receiving them.
“But reading them [now] has brought back to me what it was like to deal with Clive. I would react without giving enough thought and I think that’s what I am doing here.”
Mr Coulson, who also denies plotting to hack phones, went on:
“This is another example of Clive’s exaggerated approach. I saw this as an approach for money – not a lot of money in the context of the News of the World – I didn’t give it a lot of thought and I approved it.”
Andrew Edis QC, for the Crown, suggested that it was obvious that Mr Goodman was paying a police officer.
“Where is the policeman?” Mr Coulson asked, to which Mr Edis responded: “He’s been hidden in your payments system.”
Saying that Mr Coulson had a duty to ensure the paper’s money was wisely spent, Mr Edis asked: “Who did you think it had gone to?”, to which Mr Coulson replied: “I didn’t apply thought to who specifically it was. I wished I had.”
A few minutes later, the former editor said: “I accept that a) I didn’t pay enough attention to these emails and b) I authorised this payment – but I didn’t think it was going to a policeman.”
The trial continues.