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McCanns take part in hacking probe

(UKPA) ? 3 hours ago  14/09/2011

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


They are among a group of participants 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 Members of Parliament - Chris Bryant, Tessa Jowell, Simon Hughes and Denis MacShane, and former MPs such as Lord 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 also listed in the group. Football agent Sky Andrew, Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati and Christopher Shipman, son of mass murderer Harold Shipman, also made the list.


The inquiry would not be complete without involvement from media groups and core participation status was given to News International Group Ltd (owner of the 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.


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,


The judge said: "Mrs Brooks has very considerable knowledge and experience; I hope and believe that her input into the inquiry will be of enormous value but, at this stage and in the context of what I am presently required to do, I do not consider that it is necessary or appropriate to designate her as a core participant." He added Mrs Brooks's lawyer is able to apply to ask questions and she can "apply to put in written submissions at the end".


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