Retired newspaper man Stuart Kuttner (pictured, Reuters) may be guilty of being "too trusting" but that is no crime, jurors in the hacking trial were told.
The sum total of the evidence against the ex-managing editor of the News of the World amounted to "zero", his lawyer said in his closing speech to the Old Bailey.
Kuttner, 74, of Woodford Green, Essex, is accused of conspiring with former NoW editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks and others to hack phones at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.
Jonathan Caplan QC accepted his client had signed off weekly payments to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's companies and did not refer the gross annual total to the managing director.
But he had no personal contact with the hacker and told police himself about murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail messages in 2002.
And while he did sign off cash payments in relation to royal editor Clive Goodman's source "Alexander", there was no evidence Kuttner knew it was a codename for Mulcaire, the lawyer said.
After Mulcaire and Goodman were arrested for hacking in August 2006, Kuttner visited the journalist at home, leading to accusations he was participating in a cover up.
But Caplan dismissed the evidence relating to Kuttner, telling the jury: "Ten or 20 times zero still equals zero."
He went on: "He may be guilty of something but that is being too trusting perhaps of the newsdesk or Mr Goodman but that is not a crime.
"It's very tempting in conclusion to use the last words of the very last edition of the News of the World which are 'Thank you and Goodbye'.
"I hope to be able to say that after you deliver your verdicts."
Kuttner and six co-defendants, deny the charges against them.
The trial was adjourned.