The former editor of Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct Sunday tabloid said she knew nothing about Glenn Mulcaire's contract, but added that it should have been run past her given its size.
Giving evidence for a second day in the trial at England's Old Bailey central criminal court in London, Brooks talked about the huge behind-the-scenes deals signed with celebrities such as football icon David Beckham for exclusives.
The 45-year-old also appeared close to tears and asked for a break when the subject of having children with her ex-husband was raised.
Mulcaire, a former footballer, worked for News of the World while Brooks was its editor. He was jailed in 2007 for hacking voice mails.
Asked by her defence lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw if she knew anything about Mulcaire's contract, worth USD 153,000 (112,000 euros) a year, Brooks replied: "No, not at all."
She said his activities were not drawn to her attention during her editorship of what was Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, between 2000 and 2003.
She said that her "sign-off level" for payments in 2000 and 2001 was around 50,000 pounds so anything above that should have gone to her and to her managing editor.
Brooks said she had not been made aware of the arrangement that her news editor Greg Miskiw had reached with Mulcaire. Miskiw has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack phones, the jury has been told.
Brooks gave examples of "expensive" one-off payments for exclusive "buy-ups" with celebrities.