The Government has applied to be given ‘core participant status’at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards,
In a statement on its website, the inquiry said it will sit at 2pm today to hear the government’s application, which if successful would see it given the right to see inquiry documents and witness statements in advance.
The move comes ahead of evidence next week from former News International executives Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, which could potentially embarrass Prime Minister David Cameron.
Core participant status would also give the Government the right to put questions to other witnesses through its lawyers.
Leading media lawyer Chris Hutchings, a partner at Hamlins, said this was a “controversial move by the Government, coming late in the day”, adding: “This is an attempt to protect the Government at a time when the actions of key ministers such as Jeremy Hunt are scrutinised by the Inquiry The basis on which they are making the application is unclear.”
Cameron 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.