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McCanns join list of hack probe witnesses

The parents of Madeleine McCann, actor Hugh Grant and 'Harry Potter' creator JK Rowling were named last night as core participants in the first stage of the inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.

They are among a group of "victims" who will be represented by a barrister and have the right to seek to cross-examine witnesses and make opening and closing statements.

The group also includes Formula 1 boss Max Mosley; Chris Jefferies, the former landlord of alleged murder victim Jo Yeates; ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne; and Bob and Sally Dowler, the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson granted core participant (CP) status for the first part of the inquiry, which will look at the culture, ethics and practices of the press and its relationship with the police and politicians. The second part will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International and other media and organisations -- and consider the police investigation of claims against News International and whether police received corrupt payments.

Others in the group of victims, who are likely to be represented by the barrister David Sherborne, include serving MPs -- Chris Bryant, Tessa Jowell, Simon Hughes and Denis MacShane -- and former MPs such as John Prescott and Mark Oaten, who resigned as the Lib Dems' home affairs spokesman in 2006 over an affair with a rent boy. The world of showbusiness will be well-represented with actress Sienna Miller, PR guru Max Clifford, and model Abi Titmuss. Football agent Sky Andrew, 'Coronation Street' actress Shobna Gulati and Christopher Shipman, son of mass murderer Harold Shipman, also made the list.


CP status was also given to News International (owner of the 'News of the World', the 'Sun', the 'Times' and 'Sunday Times'), Northern and Shell Network (owner of the 'Express' and 'Star' titles), Guardian News and Media (publishing company for the 'Guardian' and 'Observer') and Associated Newspapers (for the 'Daily Mail' and 'Mail on Sunday').

The Metropolitan Police was also given the status.

The judge said he might also allow non-core participants to make written closing submissions. One omission from those given CP status was Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the 'Sun', the 'News of the World' and chief executive officer of News International.

Mrs Brooks was refused the status by Lord Justice Leveson, who said her involvement was more focused on the second part of the inquiry,

Likewise, he refused the application of private investigator Jonathan Rees, who was at one time employed by the 'News of the World'.

The judge said he was not satisfied that Mr Rees "has played such a significant role, or has such a significant interest in the subject matter".

The Leveson Inquiry is expected to last for several months.

Irish Independent