UK govt seeks to be made 'core participant' in Leveson Inquiry

UK govt seeks to be made 'core participant' in Leveson Inquiry

The British government has applied to be given the right to see Leveson Inquiry documents and witness statements in advance.

The press standards inquiry will hear an application today for the Government to be named as a “core participant”, those who have a significant interest in the hearings or may face criticism.

The move comes ahead of evidence next week from former News International executives Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, which could embarrass Prime Minister David Cameron.

Core participant status would also give the government the right to put questions to other witnesses through its lawyers.

Existing core participants for the inquiry’s third module, looking at relations between the press and politicians, include Mrs Brooks, national newspaper groups and a number of current and former MPs.

The government faced calls for Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's resignation last week after the Leveson Inquiry released emails detailing contacts between his office and a senior executive at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Labour claimed the messages showed that the Culture Secretary failed to fulfil his quasi-judicial role in relation to Mr Murdoch’s proposed takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Mr Hunt’s special adviser Adam Smith quit the next day, admitting he went “too far” in his contacts with News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel.

If the Government had been a core participant at the time, it would have been given advance access to the emails and could have argued that parts should be blanked out before being made public.

It was Mr Cameron who set up the Leveson Inquiry last July in response to revelations that the now-defunct News of the World hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone after she disappeared in 2002.

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