Madeleine McCann's parents seek phone hacking probe role

Madeleine McCann's parents seek phone hacking probe role
6 September 2011

Phone-hacking scandal

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann want to participate in the judicial inquiry into the phone hacking scandal, a preliminary hearing has been told.

They are among alleged victims who want to be "core participants" in the first part of the Leveson Inquiry.

Core participant status means a person is deemed to be specially interested in the subject and may apply for public funding for legal representation.

The inquiry's first stage will examine relations between the press and public.

The investigation is one of a number of inquiries looking at the way the media operates in the UK.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into press standards.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell to conduct a review of the media's relationship with Whitehall.

The prime minister has also asked former Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Elizabeth Filkin to oversee a review of the media's relationship with the Metropolitan Police.

Tuesday's preliminary hearing was held to consider applications for core participant status.

'Notorious' cases

Lord Justice Leveson will decide who will get core participant status in the next few days and notify applicants in writing.

Barrister David Sherborne told the hearing that he represented a number of alleged victims of general media malpractice who wanted to be core participants, including Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter went missing aged three on holiday in Portugal in 2007, Mr Mosley and Chris Jefferies, the former landlord of alleged murder victim Jo Yeates.

Mr Sherborne said those seeking to take part in the inquiry had been involved in "notorious" cases.

Alleged victims of phone hacking who have applied for core participant status include politicians Chris Bryant, Tessa Jowell, Denis McShane, Lord Prescott and former police officer Brian Paddick.

News International, Guardian News and Media Group, Express Newspapers and the Metropolitan Police are among other applicants who are not in the category of alleged victims.

Associated Newspapers - publishers of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday - are also expected to apply in writing in the next few days.

Improper conduct probe

Lord Justice Leveson said the inquiry would examine the relationship between the press and the public, the press and the police and the press and politicians.

Outlining the planned format for the probe, he said he would initially look into the "culture, practice and ethics" of the press.

The judge said the second stage of the inquiry would consider the extent of any improper conduct.

He said he would hold a series of preliminary hearings before a main hearing.

Lord Justice Leveson said he wanted evidence from experts and members of the public.

The judge said he expected the inquiry to last for several months and aimed to produce a report within a year.

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