Rebekah Brooks had nothing to do with the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone and was left feeling "shock and horror" when she found out what had happened, she has told a court.
The former News of the World editor told the Old Bailey that she knew nothing about the tasking of phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire to access Milly's voicemails and only became aware of it on July 4, 2011.
Asked about her reaction when she found out, the 45-year-old said: "Shock, horror, everything.
"Just to put my reaction into any form of context, I was told that the NotW had asked someone to access Milly Dowler's phone while she was missing, that they had also deleted her voicemails and for a period of time because of that her parents had been given false hope and thought she was alive.
"I just think anyone would think that that was pretty abhorrent, so my reaction was that. That was what I was told."
As Brooks returned to the witness box for the third day, jurors were told that 13-year-old Milly was reported missing on March 21, 2002.
Her disappearance was covered by the now-defunct tabloid in the following weeks, and the court heard that it had emerged that Milly's voicemails had been accessed between April 10 and 12 that year.
"Nobody did delete voicemails and certain parts of the police knew voicemails had been accessed," she added.
Brooks denies conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice.
She told the court the story of Milly's disappearance would have been "very important" but denied it was particularly significant because of the NotW campaign for Sarah's Law.
"A missing schoolgirl would be of interest to me as an editor and news editor but not in the context of Sarah's Law," she said.
Brooks told the court that no journalist or desk head had come to her and asked her to approve the use of phone hacking to get stories while she was at the helm of the tabloid between 2000 and 2003.
Asked by her lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw QC if she had ever been asked to sanction accessing any voicemails as part of an investigation or any stories, she said "no".
She told the court: "At the time, if you took my editorship of the News of the World at the time, I don't think anybody, me included, knew it was illegal."
She added: "No one, no desk head, no journalist, ever came to me and said ,'we're working on so-and-so a story but we need to access their voicemail' or asked my sanction to do it.
"It just didn't happen in the course of my editorship.
"Even thought I didn't know it was illegal I still would have felt that it was absolutely in the category of a serious breach of privacy."
She said under the terms of the Press Complaints Commission code of practice, hacking "certainly would have fallen into a serious breach of someone's privacy, particularly if you didn't have an overwhelming public interest reason for doing so".
The former NI chief executive insisted she had never sanctioned phone hacking during her editorship of the NotW but hypothetically, she might have done in the right circumstance and if there was a strong public interest.
She said: "If somebody had come to me with the right set of circumstances and asked me ... something to do with paedophiles, Roy Whiting... something along those lines and had asked me with a good set of reasons I may have done."
The court heard that Brooks had shied away from offering a reward for information on Milly's disappearance because the focus at the time had been wrongly on her father.
She also backed out of asking the Paynes to comment on the story, even though they lived just a few streets away from the Dowlers in Surrey.
Brooks said the Milly case initially chimed with Sarah Payne's disappearance but she acted on guidance from police at the time.
Brooks also took on criticism that the Sarah's Law campaign had focused on stranger abductions rather than the 70% involving people the victim knew.
She said: "The background of Sarah's story and these criticisms I have just talked about had an impact."
In fact, Milly had been abducted and murdered by a predatory sex offender and had nothing to do with her father, the court heard.
Milly's phone was most likely hacked between April 10 and 12, and Brooks was on holiday in Dubai from April 7 for a week, the court heard.
Mr Laidlaw asked the former editor: "Was that ever brought to your attention at any point, firstly during your holiday in Dubai?"
"Absolutely not," Brooks said.
"Or thereafter?" Mr Laidlaw asked, to which she replied "No".
And when he said: "Before July 4 2011?", she again said "No".