Hacking trial: Former NOTW Managing Editor Stuart Kuttner 'appalled' at allegations against him

‘I spent 29 years . . . involved in committees that set standards'

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The Independent Online

Stuart Kuttner, the News of the World's former managing editor, said he has never hacked a telephone or bribed a policeman and he is "shocked" to be accused of such behaviour.

He made the blanket denials in his August 2011 police interviews, transcripts of which were read to the jury at the Old Bailey hacking trial.

Mr Kuttner claimed that in contrast to such underhand behaviour, he had worked hard to uphold strong standards of journalism across the industry while he worked at the tabloid.

"I will say now I am utterly appalled at the allegations made against me personally, " Mr Kuttner said in his police interview.

"I spent 29 years at the the News of the World (NOTW) and much other time in Fleet Street involved in committees that set standards.

"I worked with Lord Wakeham after the death of the Princess of Wales involving the standard that the paparazzi might work under...

"I was involved right in the beginning in assisting the editor of the construction of the editors' code of practice and much else.

" I've never knowingly, and I use the world quite consciously and deliberately, I have never knowingly bribed a policeman, which appears to be among your allegations.

"I have never knowingly played any part whatsoever in the hacking or bugging of anybody's telephone and I'm very shocked at the events of today but I'm here to answer your questions and I will continue to do so."

The tabloid's former editor Andy Coulson and Kuttner, 73, of Woodford Green, Essex,are accused of conspiring to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006, along with former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

Former NotW and Sun editor Brooks also faces two counts of conspiring with others to commit misconduct in public office - one between January 1 2004 and January 31 2012, and the other between February 9 2006 and October 16 2008 - linked to alleged inappropriate payments to public officials.

She also faces two allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - one with her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, 49, of Chelmsford, Essex, between July 6 and 9 2011, and a second with her husband Charles Brooks, and former News International head of security Mark Hanna and others between July 15 and July 19 2011.

Coulson is also facing two allegations that he conspired with former NotW royal editor Clive Goodman, 56, from Addlestone in Surrey, and other unknown people to commit misconduct in public office - between August 31 2002 and January 31 2003, and between January 31 and June 3 2005.

Jurors were told that news editor Ian Edmondson , who is charged with conspiring to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006, is "currently unfit" and will take no further part in the trial.

He will be tried by a different jury at a later date, Mr Justice Saunders said.

Kuttner denied in his police interview that the approach at the NotW was to get the story at any cost.

He was asked: "Can you tell me about any knowledge you have regarding Mrs Brooks's possible involvement or knowledge of phone hacking occurring in the News of the World?"

Kuttner replied: " No."

He was asked: "Did you conspire with Mrs Brooks at any point to intercept phones, so phone hacking, during your time work with her?"

Kuttner replied: "I neither conspired with Rebekah Brooks nor with anybody nor had any part in phone hacking."

He was asked: "From your memory, was there a culture within the News of the World of turning a blind eye to the practices that journalists or reporters, or again anybody, who were involved in that they possibly shouldn't have been? Was there that culture, 'as long as we don't know about it, it's OK'?"

Kuttner said: "Not that I'm aware of."

His job as managing editor was largely a financial role involving the budgets of various departments and he would also go to the morning editorial conferences, the court heard.

Signing off expenses credits was a significant part of his job.

He would be involved with high-profile campaigns, sometimes where a reward was offered in criminal cases. He would also do TV and radio interviews to help promote the paper.

Asked which he liked best in his career - management or writing - Mr Kuttner told detectives: "The word 'reporter' is inscribed into my heart but it does not mean that you do not get on with other aspects of the job."

He said he was probably the last person at the company to get an email address and he did not even know how to answer his mobile phone, saying he preferred speaking to people.

Kuttner said he "liked" Coulson and he recalled speaking with him about phone hacking with regard to the "Goodman affair".

He and Coulson said "just how appalled we were at the whole business", he said.

Kuttner described the day Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were arrested as "the most traumatic in my life in newspapers".

He told the detectives: "It was an appalling day. Subsequently, much more recently, the day the News of the World closed was equally traumatic in a different way and today exceeds them both."

He said he was "shattered by this event".