LONDON - The former managing editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid believed he was doing the right thing when he called police investigating the murder of Milly Dowler in 2002 with information obtained by hacking the schoolgirl's mobile phone, a court was told on Wednesday.
Stuart Kuttner, who was managing editor at the weekly newspaper for 22 years until 2009, told the Old Bailey he did not know how the information had been obtained and was"absolutely not" involved in accessing voicemails.
"It was my view, that having been given this information, that the first and right thing to do was to pick up the phone to the police," he said. "If it happened again today, despite all this, I would do it again," he added.
Kuttner is on trial with the paper's former editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson accused of conspiracy to intercept voicemails on mobile phones. They all deny the charges.
Brooks, Coulson and the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman, also face charges over illegal payments to public officials which they deny.
The court has previously heard that private detective Glenn Mulcaire, with whom Goodman was convicted of phone-hacking in 2007, was paid by the newspaper to intercept mobile phone voicemail messages.
Kuttner, who the jury has been told is suffering from ill health, said he was a traditional journalist who encouraged reporters to get out and about. He said the activities of Mulcaire and Goodman were "not a form of newspaper work or journalism that I recognise." The 74-year-old has been accused by prosecutors of concealing payments to Mulcaire from senior News International executives.
Kuttner broke the payments of as much as 100,000 pounds ($167,000) a year into weekly cash instalments and instructed journalists to falsify the names of confidential sources, the jury was told.
"The idea that I would conceal a payment from the management of the company ... is utterly baseless," he said. "It's not me. I did not do that, in this case or in any case."
Asked by his counsel Jonathan Caplan whether he had knowingly approved payments for phone-hacking activities, Kuttner replied: "I can't answer too strongly. It's so far removed from my concept of journalism as to be utterly, absolutely and truly false."
The trial continues.