Charlotte Church among new Leveson core participants

The Leveson Inquiry has granted core participant status to six more individuals including singer Charlotte Church and TV presenter Anne Diamond.

Lord Justice Leveson has also granted the same status to former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames, Jane Winter, and an anonymous figure identified only as ‘HJK’.

Core participants in public inquiries can have extra rights to legal representation and are allowed to cross-examine witnesses and make opening and closing submissions. They may also receive advance copies of the report and benefit from advance disclosure of inquiry materials.

It also emerged today that Leveson has refused an application made by Surrey Police for core participant status at the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday.

The force’s barrister, John Beggs QC, argued that because the family of murdered school Milly Dowler had been granted core participant status, the close involvement of Surrey Police in allegations of her phone being hacked gave them a ‘significant interest’in the inquiry.

He also suggested the phones of a number of Surrey officers may also have been targeted.

Leveson said the Inquiry Rules 2006 provided ‘ample opportunity’for their interests to be protected without having to grant core participant status, and claimed there was ‘absolutely no question of anyone being subject to criticism without full opportunity to respond”.

Commenting on the decision to grant the National Union of Journalists core participant status on Monday, he added: ‘I see considerable force in the submission that, through its members, the NUJ does provide a different window on the issues with which the Inquiry is concerned and, just as important, is able to access evidence on the issues of culture, practices and ethics which the Inquiry might not otherwise be able to obtain.

‘Journalists may well speak to the union when they would not speak to the Inquiry and a senior representative journalist will no doubt be able to put evidence together (whether or not it is necessary to protect every source) which could be of value.”

Telegraph Media Groupand Trinity Mirror did not initially apply for core participant status but have both since made successful applications.

Leveson said they were granted ‘for the sake of consistency’and referred to an earlier ruling he made in September: ‘Every aspect of Part 1 [of the inquiry] touches upon the press and its outcome will inevitably be relevant to (if not impact upon) the approach to certain types of news gathering and its dissemination, along with the relationship between the press and the public, the police, potential regulators and politicians.

‘Thus, if the culture and practices of the press require change, the effect will be upon all. In the circumstances, I have no doubt that each of these media groups is entitled to core participant status for each module of this part.”

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