A cool and assured Rebekah Brooks has told a British parliamentary inquiry that she did not know ''anyone in their right mind'' who would authorise hacking into the phone of a murdered schoolgirl.
Mrs Brooks, the former chief executive of News International who resigned on Friday before being arrested on Sunday on hacking and bribery suspicions, was editor of the News of the World when it hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
She said that until The Guardian broke the story two weeks ago she knew nothing about the hacking and would never have approved it.
"It seems now that it's incredible that people didn't know this was the case but at the time it wasn't a practice that was condoned or sanctioned at News of the World under my editorship...
"I don't know anyone in their right mind who would authorise [it]."
Mrs Brooks appeared before the select committee on culture, media and sport of the House of Commons, which is inquiring into the now-infamous phone hacking scandal and relationships between News International and the press and politicians.
Earlier, the inquiry had grilled media proprietors Rupert and James Murdoch.
Mrs Brooks's long-awaited inquisition came later than scheduled and ran for longer than planned, finishing about 4.30am AEST today, but she remained cool and assured, despite dark rings under her eyes. She wore precisely the same shade of dark blue worn by the Murdochs and most of their retinue, with a small silver heart on a chain at her neck.
Mrs Brooks denied she had told British Prime Minister David Cameron to hire Andy Coulson as his media chief. Mr Coulson had been an editor on the News of the World during the hacking and before he worked at No.10 Downing Street. He resigned from that position in January and has since been charged over hacking and bribery claims.
Mrs Brooks said it was chancellor George Osborn who had suggested the idea to Mr Cameron. "The first time I heard he had been approached it was from Andy Coulson and not David Cameron."
Mrs Brooks said that her relationship with Mr Cameron was not as close as had been reported, and that she had visited Downing Street much more often under previous prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
She said she did not know if it was right that she had met Mr Cameron 26 times but it was not correct that they owned a racehorse or land together, or went horseriding together at weekends. "There's a lot out there that's just not true," she said of recent press coverage.
"The truth is that he's a neighbour and a friend but I deem the relationship to be wholly appropriate and at no time [have I] had a conversation with the Prime Minister that you in the room would have disapproved [of]."
She had not visited Downing Street once since he took office but had been to the prime ministerial residence about six times a year under Mr Brown and Mr Blair, she said.
She said she had never been asked by any prime minister not to run a story and that she would not have listened anyway, if the story was true and accurate.
Mrs Brooks also said she had never sanctioned payments to police. She had used private detectives herself only when she was tracking down convicted paedophiles as part of a campaign she ran to have them publicly named. She said the hiring of detectives to track down subjects' personal details was common across Fleet Street in the 1990s.
Mrs Brooks was asked about a phrase she had used when talking to NoTW journalists about the closure of the paper being necessary because "there was more to come". She said she was referring to the voluminous files of private detective and hacker Glenn Mulcaire, which were held by police and which she had not seen. "I think in a year's time we will actually get to a final position on what actually happened."
One MP asked whether, now that she has been in the spotlight herself, she regretted any of the headlines she had written. "I don't think you would find any editor in Fleet Street that didn't feel that, with some headlines they have published, they have made some mistakes and I am no different."
She said the publicity had been unpleasant but that she still supported the right of the press to report freely.
At the end of her evidence Mrs Brooks apologised again for the hacking and asked the committee if it would invite her back after her legal situation was resolved, which would allow her to speak more freely.