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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

parents of missing Madeleine McCann are to join alleged victims of media intrusion in giving evidence to the press standards inquiry.

The Leveson Inquiry, sitting in central London, will also hear evidence from Sheryl Gascoigne, the ex-wife of former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, lawyer Mark Lewis - who represents phone hacking victims - and journalist Tom Rowland.

On Tuesday, comedian Steve Coogan claimed he was the victim of two "sting operations" by the News of the World.

He told the inquiry that showbiz reporter Rav Singh - who used to work for the defunct tabloid - called him in August 2002 and forewarned him that he was to be subject of a sting operation where a girl would call him and tempt him to reveal personal details about himself.

"She would try to entice me to talking about intimate details of her and my life," Coogan said. "And I was told by Rav Singh that Andy Coulson would be listening to the call." He said he took the call but did not divulge any details. He acted nonchalant so Mr Singh did not get into any trouble, the hearing was told.

Of the second occasion, in April 2004 when Mr Coulson had become editor, Coogan said: "I was in a relationship that was breaking up because of an affair I had. He (Mr Singh) called me and said, 'look, I want to help you'. I begged him not to put in some of the more lurid details of the story.

"He said that if I confirm certain aspects, the more lurid details would be left out... After that, my manager received a phone call from Andy Coulson saying they had recorded the whole phone call and they were going to print it in the newspaper."

The former adviser to supermodel Elle Macpherson also gave evidence at the hearing. Mary-Ellen Field, an alleged hacking victim, said she lost her job because she had been suspected of leaking stories. The Australian said she was accused of speaking to the media because she was an "alcoholic" and was persuaded to spend time in a clinic.

Lord Justice Leveson also heard evidence from the parents of murdered schoolgirl Diane Watson, who called for a change in libel laws so newspapers could be sued for defaming dead people. Margaret and James Watson said the negative reporting about their daughter led to their teenage son committing suicide. The couple's 16-year-old daughter was stabbed to death by fellow pupil Barbara Glover during the morning break at Whitehill Secondary School in Glasgow in April 1991.

The inquiry will hear from actress Sienna Miller, Harry Potter author JK Rowling and former F1 boss Max Mosley, at a later date.


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