The former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner has described former royal editor Clive Goodman's performance at the title as "in later years disappointing" – but told the phone-hacking trial he had no animosity towards him.
Kuttner was accused in court today of leaking a "made up" story about a suicide bid by Princess Diana. Goodman was "furious" and fell out with Kuttner over the incident in 1992, the Old Bailey hacking trial was told.
Goodman's lawyer David Spens QC accused Kuttner of leaking the story while cross examining him in the witness box.
Kuttner denied it and said he had no memory of asking Goodman to help a journalist with background information for a book to match one Andrew Morton was writing about Diana.
Spens said after Kuttner persisted, Goodman told him a rumour about Diana receiving an emergency visit by a private doctor was "impossible to prove".
Spens told Kuttner: "That very story you knew was not true but made up as an example of what might be in Mr Morton's book actually appeared as fact in a newspaper in order to plug his book."
Kuttner said: "I do not remember any of that."
Spens asserted: "Mr Goodman was furious with you and had a row with you that you had leaked what he told you."
Kuttner replied: "If the accusation is I leaked information, it's completely untrue and entirely false. I did not then or any time leak information."
Kuttner denied he harboured animosity toward Goodman, who he had earlier described as an enigma.
He said: "I do not bear animosity. I found his performance in later years disappointing."
Kuttner, 74, is accused of being involved in a conspiracy to hack phones at the NotW by signing off payments.
Spens said: "I'm going to suggest to you the practice of paying some sources in false names and false addresses was already widespread when Mr Goodman joined in 1996 and you knew it."
The retired newspaper executive denied it.
Kuttner, of Woodford Green in Essex, denies conspiring with former NotW editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson and others to hack phones between 2000 and 2009.
Goodman admitted hacking in 2006 but denies conspiring to commit misconduct in public office by paying officials for stories.
Spens went on to suggest Kuttner picked up Goodman after his 2006 arrest for hacking to find out for the NotW what he had told them and check that police were only investigating Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire.
Kuttner said: "I believe for the first time in my life a colleague at the newspaper for which I worked had become involved with the police. Just as if someone were in hospital or had an accident we tried to put the arm of the company around him. The real reason was not the reason you suggested."
He said he could not remember having a meeting afterwards about what Goodman had told him, but people were "interested to know what had been going on".
Spens asserted that Kuttner had been aware that three more NotW journalists had dealings with Mulcaire aside from Goodman.
And above all, he knew Kuttner had paid for Goodman's Alexander Project – the separate deal with Mulcaire to hack phones in the royal household – and that Andy Coulson had approved it, he said.
Kuttner replied: "I reject what you just said."
Spens said: "Mr Goodman went to see you in your office and asked if you had spoken about the new project with the editor and you said 'yes, I have'."
Kuttner said he did not remember.
He added: "Unfortunately, Mr Goodman deceived the newspaper for which I remain extremely sorry. I was not party to any of it."
All seven defendants in the case, including Coulson, deny the charges against them.