Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid, personally reviewed thousands of financial documents a week including contributor payments, he said today.
Kuttner, 74, was for more than 22 years the managing editor of the weekly tabloid that was shut down in 2011 amid a phone-hacking scandal. He told a London court as he began his defense case today that he was responsible for signing off on cash and freelancer payments, human resources and had an ambassadorial role to senior politicians and policeman.
Kuttner is among seven people on trial over phone hacking and bribes to public officials at News Corp. publications. He’s charged with conspiracy to intercept voice-mail messages between 2000 and 2006 along with former editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.
“The essence of the managing editor,” Kuttner said, “was to oversee, approve sometimes, disapprove expenditure for all aspects of the newspaper.”
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the weekly News of the World in 2011 following the scandal caused by the discovery that journalists had listened to messages on the phone of a murdered teenager. Kuttner told police in 2011 that he never listened to tapes of the voice-mail message obtained from the mobile phone of the schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, prosecutors said earlier in the trial.
Kuttner told London police in a 2011 interview that he didn’t remember sending an e-mail to detectives in Surrey, south of the capital, investigating Dowler’s disappearance in 2002 that offered them tape recordings of the teenager’s voice mails.
Kuttner began his journalistic career in the 1960s and worked on some of the biggest U.K. stories of the time including the Profumo affair and the Moors murders carried out by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, Jonathan Caplan his lawyer, said today.
Since 2010 Kuttner has suffered two heart attacks and a severe brain stem stroke, Caplan said.
Kuttner denied knowing Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who has pleaded guilty to hacking Dowler’s phone.
Kuttner said he had “no recollection of any dealings with Glenn Mulcaire,” and agreeing to pay police in exchange for stories. Mulcaire was sentenced to prison in 2007 for phone hacking.
Judge John Saunders told the 11-member jury today not to expect deliberations to start until the end of May. The trial, which began in October, is “extremely important” and “extremely expensive” and the jury must not be rushed.
If deliberations clash with holiday plans, jurors would be compensated, which would be a “drop in the ocean compared with the cost of the trial,” he said.