The News of the World news editor who brought in phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire has refused to take responsibility for the closure of the newspaper.
Greg Miskiw has blamed News International (now News UK) for failing to "grasp the nettle" in an interview with Channel 4 News.
The interview was brought to Channel 4 News by Graham Johnson, a former Sunday Mirror and News of the World reporter who admitted to phone-hacking and was given a suspended jail sentence last year. Johnson now works for Byline.com, which featured an article written by Miskiw last Friday.
He revealed to Byline and to Channel 4 News that ex-footballer/model David Beckham's phones were "routinely" hacked. It is the first public admission that the star's phones were hacked by journalists.
The former England captain's phones were hacked "all the time, over and over again" as part of investigations around stories about the star, he said.
Miskiw, 65, was sentened to six months in prison last year when he admitted one general count of conspiring together and with others to illegally access voicemails between October 2000 and August 2006.
He told Channel 4's Alex Thomson: "We hacked David Beckham's phones routinely, all the time, over and over again."
Referring to an alleged affair by the footballer, which Beckham has denied, Miskiw added: "The David Beckham story, we had to track all these phones.
"From recollection (on that particular story) I don't think we got anything of any significance from doing Beckham's phones."
Miskiw also told the programme he discovered that murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked when it was revealed by The Guardian.
"I was in Florida at the time and I just lay down on my bed and stared at the fan for a couple of hours thinking: how awful.
"It was like a scene out of a movie. I was just absolutely devastated, absolutely devastated," he said.
Asked by reporter Thomson what he would say to Milly Dowler's father, he said: "What could I say, other than: 'I'm terribly sorry. It happened. It was more than misjudgment – it was an appalling thing to do.'?"
Miskiw added that he believed "absolutely, 100 per cent" that other media groups had hacked phones. He told Thomson: "If I'm a prince of darkness then I'm one of several princes. I'm more of a duke."
Asked about life at the newspaper, Miskiw said: "You were in a bubble at the News of the World where the objective was very simple: just get the story. Just get it… no matter what… no matter how."
Put to him that he had been "in good measure responsible for bringing down an entire newspaper", Miskiw said: "I did not bring down the News of the World. The News of the World brought itself down.
"Or News International brought itself down by reacting the way they did. And if they had decided from day one to grasp the nettle and say, 'Right, there is a handful of journalists who are doing this, we are going to get rid of them', the News of the World would still be running now."