The former managing editor of the News of the World told a court today that he thought demands for cash from convicted hacker Clive Goodman were "excessive".
But Stuart Kuttner told the hacking trial it was not his responsibility to investigate the circumstances around cash payments to contributors to the Sunday newspaper.
Kuttner, 74, was giving evidence in his defence against the allegation that he was involved in a conspiracy to hack phones at the Sunday newspaper.
The trial has previously heard that former royal editor Goodman was convicted of hacking with private detective Glenn Mulcaire in 2006.
Mulcaire was on a £92,000 contract at the NotW which was allegedly concealed by being split up into weekly payments, the court has heard.
Meanwhile, Mulcaire also entered into a deal with Goodman for which he was paid cash under the alias David Alexander, the jurors have been told.
Before his retirement four yours ago, Kuttner confirmed his responsibilities as managing editor did include approving cash payments and keeping the newspaper on budget.
But in his evidence, Kuttner said he had "no recollection of any dealings with Glenn Mulcaire", and described Goodman as "an enigma".
His lawyer, Jonathan Caplan QC, asked: "If a contract came to you from the newsdesk where the weekly spending was within your authority or within a sum less than £50,000 a week, what would happen?"
Kuttner replied: "I do not think I needed to go higher up the chain of authority."
He said he would only look at annual values of contracts if he was preparing for the following year's budget.
On cash payments, he said they were a "small minority" which he regarded as an alternative to the regular contributor payment request system.
But he told jurors: "I thought quite a number of Mr Goodman's demands for cash payments were excessive in terms of the sums sought."
He said he had never suggested that journalists give false names or addresses when submitting cash payments.
On his relationship with Goodman, he said: "I think my concern about Clive was he did not want to go out on a story, which seemed to be a thing that journalists should do."
He said he and Rebekah Brooks travelled to Paris in his place on one occasion to secure a story.
On the former editor, he said: "Rebekah Brooks was a long-time colleague of mine and I noticed on the report from court weeks ago she spoke of a generation gap and that's true. I admired her."
He said she was "ambitious in a perfectly natural way".
He described Brooks's successor as NotW editor, Andy Coulson, as "professional" and "focused".
Earlier, Kuttner said he was dedicated to the now defunct newspaper, and declared: "The News of the World was the centre of my life."
Before joining NotW, he had worked for other national newspapers as a reporter covering stories including the Profumo affair and the Moors murders.
Kuttner was giving evidence despite suffering ill-health. He has had two heart attacks and a stroke in recent years, the Old Bailey heard.
He began his evidence in place of Goodman, who was still too unwell to continue with his cross-examination, the jury was told.
Kuttner, of Woodford Green, Essex, denies conspiring with former NotW editors Brooks and Coulson, and others, to hack phones between October 3 2000 and August 9 2006. His evidence is expected to last for four days.
All seven defendants in the case deny the charges against them, including Goodman who is accused of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office in relation to paying officials for stories.