Dowlers to join Hugh Grant in testifying on media

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ACTOR Hugh Grant and the parents of murdered Milly Dowler will disclose their experiences of tabloid newspapers intruding on their personal lives when they give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards.

Grant, Sienna Miller and JK Rowling will join families of crime victims, journalists and lawyers who will describe their experiences of media intrusion. The inquiry yesterday confirmed the names of the people who will open the witness sessions next week.

Sally and Bob Dowler, whose murdered daughter Milly’s phone was hacked by the News of the World, will be the first to give evidence on Monday. They will describe the heartbreak that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire caused them when he deleted some of the schoolgirl’s voicemail messages, giving them false hope she was still alive.

Grant, who will also appear on Monday, is expected to tell the inquiry about how paparazzi have hounded the mother of his baby daughter. Chinese actress Tinglan Hong was last week granted a High Court injunction prohibiting harassment of her and the child.

In April, the News of the World published a front-page story entitled “Hugh’s Secret Girl”, which speculated on whether she was pregnant “as in fact she was, albeit in the very early stages”.

Since then, Mr Justice Tugendhat claimed “she has been followed regularly and photographed without her consent. She has found this distressing at a time when she was pregnant”.

The judge also referred to an incident in July when 51-year-old Grant appeared on Question Time to discuss the phone-hacking scandal. That evening Ms Hong, 32, who was seven months pregnant, received phone calls from with-held numbers demanding she get Grant to “shut up”.

The other witnesses at the inquiry on Monday will be lawyer Graham Shear and writer Joan Smith, whose phone was allegedly hacked because of her relationship with MP Denis MacShane. Comedian Steve Coogan, supermodel Elle Macpherson’s former business adviser Mary-Ellen Field, former Premiership footballer Garry Flitcroft and Margaret Watson, whose daughter Diane was stabbed to death at her Glasgow school, will give evidence on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the inquiry will hear from missing Madeleine McCann’s father Gerry, who has described how his wife Kate felt “mentally raped” when the News of the World published her highly personal diary.

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne’s ex-wife Sheryl, journalist Tom Rowland and lawyer Mark Lewis, who represents many phone hacking victims, will also appear.

The witnesses on Thursday will be Miller, Harry Potter author Rowling, former Formula 1 chief Max Mosley, lawyer Mark Thomson, and an unnamed person referred to as HJK whose phone was allegedly hacked after beginning a relationship with a well-known figure.

The inquiry will not sit on Friday, but it will hold another day of evidence from alleged media intrusion victims on Monday, November 28.

Singer Charlotte Church, TV presenter and journalist Anne Diamond, retired teacher Christopher Jefferies, who was wrongly arrested on suspicion of the murder of landscape architect Joanna Yeates, will appear.

Testimony will also be provided by former British Army intelligence officer Ian Hurst and Northern Ireland human rights campaigner Jane Winter, who claim their email correspondence was illegally accessed by private investigators working for the News of the World.

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry in July in response to the revelations that the News of the World hacked 13-year-old Milly’s phone.

The first part, which formally began on Monday, is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general. The second part, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will not begin until detectives have completed their work and any prosecutions have concluded.