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Leveson Inquiry: Rupert Murdoch And James Murdoch Among Owners To Give Evidence

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The Murdochs are expected to appear at the inquiry in the coming weeks
The Murdochs are expected to appear at the inquiry in the coming weeks

Newspaper owners - expected to include Rupert and James Murdoch - will be called before the Leveson Inquiry in the coming weeks.

Lord Justice Leveson said media proprietors will give evidence in the weeks beginning 23 April and 8 May.

The inquiry will also receive testimony from former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks as it moves into its third module, looking at relations between national newspapers and politicians.

Brooks applied again today for official status as one of the inquiry's core participants, people who have a significant interest in the hearings or may face criticism.

Her lawyer Stephen Parkinson said she had already been criticised during the inquiry and could be the subject of negative comments in future sessions.

"For module three she has been invited by the inquiry to give evidence, both written evidence and oral evidence, and I anticipate also that a number of witnesses will be giving evidence which refers to her," he said.

Brooks, who edited the News of the World and The Sun, has twice been arrested by Scotland Yard detectives investigating allegations of phone-hacking, corrupt payments to public officials and an attempt to pervert the course of justice. She was bailed and has not been charged.

A number of politicians - including Labour MP and phone-hacking campaigner Tom Watson, former Labour deputy prime minister Lord Prescott and Lib-Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes - have also applied to be core participants for module three.

Lord Justice Leveson said he hopes to make a written ruling on who should be given the status within days.

Today's hearing was told that the inquiry will not hear from politicians - understood to include current and past leaders of the main parties - until after the local elections on 3 May.

Module three is set to last until the end of June, while July will be taken up with module four, examining recommendations for the future, and closing submissions.

Lord Justice Leveson noted: "The idea is to finish the formal part of the inquiry by the end of July - in other words, before the anniversary of the date of the appointment of this inquiry."

The inquiry chairman announced he will hear "the rest of the story" about the deletion of Milly Dowler's voicemails in the week beginning 8 May.

A lawyer for Scotland Yard said in December it was "unlikely" that News International journalists erased messages from the murdered schoolgirl's phone three days after she went missing in 2002.

The disclosure prompted criticism of the Guardian, which reported last July that the News of the World had wiped voicemails from 13-year-old Milly's phone to make room for new ones, giving her parents false hope she was still alive.

Lord Justice Leveson has also invited newspapers to send him their most important recent stories to highlight the positive things they do.

He said: "On a number of occasions it has been suggested to me that I have not paid sufficient attention to the good work of the press.

"Perhaps that is an inevitable consequence of the terms of reference of the inquiry.

"But in order that nobody can suggest that I have paid insufficient attention to that aspect, I will invite any title that wishes to submit what they perceive to be their top five public interest stories over the last few years, merely to reflect the other side of the coin."

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