- Downing Street applied to be a 'core participant' in the probe allowing them to get all documents in advance
- The move comes after embarrassing e-mails published by James Murdoch left Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt clinging on to his job
The Government has won an eleventh hour bid to view potentially explosive evidence from Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in advance to help avoid another scandal at the Leveson Inquiry.
Both could publish intimate details of their relationships with David Cameron when they appear at the probe into press standards next week, and the Coalition has moved to get its hands on the paperwork before it is released to the public.
Eight cabinet ministers, including David Cameron and Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now named as 'core participants', people who have a significant interest in the hearings or may face criticism.
This status allows them to view all evidence submitted by upcoming witnesses in advance of the hearings.
Danger: The Government wants to see the evidence of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson as soon as possible
On Thursday Andy Coulson is likely to be asked about how he got the job as the Prime Minister's spin doctor before being forced to resign because of the phone hacking scandal.
While Mrs Brooks could also lift the lid on her friendship with the Prime Minister, and there is speculation emails and text messages sent between Mr Cameron and the former News International chief executive could be published.
Lord Justice Leveson also gave core participant status to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Education Secretary Michael Gove, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, Home Secretary Theresa May and Chancellor George Osborne.
All of the Ministers apart from Mr Osborne will give evidence in person over the coming weeks.
Lord Justice Leveson agreed that the individual ministers could seek the status, as long as long as they did not try to question other witnesses or make opening and closing submissions.
All but one of the ministers have already submitted written witness statements to the inquiry, the hearing was told.
Lord Justice Leveson stressed: 'There can be no question of access being sought for the purpose of preparing evidence.'
The inquiry chairman insisted that all the ministers and their advisers must sign a confidentiality pledge not to leak any of the material they see in advance.
Witnesses: Former Number 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson and Murdoch executive Rebekah Brooks, pictured together in 2008, will both appear at Leveson next week
Without naming him, Lord Justice Leveson accused Labour MP Chris Bryant, who has core participant status, of showing 'total disregard' for the confidentiality agreement he has signed.
Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Mr Bryant quoted from a then-unreleased document listing meetings between Mr Cameron and Rupert Murdoch.
It came after James Murdoch's evidence last week included more than 100 damaging emails between one of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s special advisers, Adam Smith, and a Rupert Murdoch lobbyist.
Mr Hunt has been left clinging to his job and to avoid a similar situation the Government has today applied to be a 'core participant', giving them the right to see Leveson Inquiry documents and witness statements in advance.
Friends: The PM and Rebekah Brooks live close together and it is rumoured Mr Cameron texted her up to 12 times a day
The Government could have applied for the special status more than a year ago but last week's furore appears to have sparked action from within Whitehall.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt applied today for the right to see Leveson Inquiry documents and witness statements in advance.
Eight cabinet ministers asked to be named as 'core participants', those who have a significant interest in the hearings or may face criticism.
Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt have already supplied witness statements and will give evidence to the press standards inquiry in the coming weeks.
Also applying for core participant status are Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Education Secretary Michael Gove, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, Home Secretary Theresa May and Chancellor George Osborne.
The Prime Minister said last July that 'with 20:20 hindsight' he would not have hired Mr Coulson in May 2007, four months after he resigned from the Sunday tabloid over the jailing of royal reporter Clive Goodman for phone hacking.
Storm: During his evidence last week James Murdoch, left, released more than 100 e-mails that left Jeremy Hunt, right, fighting for his job
His Leveson Inquiry evidence will be the first time he has spoken publicly since being arrested by Scotland Yard on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption last July. He was bailed and has not been charged.
Mrs Brooks, 43, edited the News of the World and The Sun before becoming chief executive of Mr Murdoch’s UK newspapers division News International in September 2009.
She and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie are key members of the influential 'Chipping Norton set', which also includes Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, and Mr Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and her PR guru husband Matthew Freud.
The inquiry has already heard that Mrs Brooks regularly met Mr Cameron and other top politicians along with Rupert and James Murdoch.
She hosted a Christmas dinner on December 23 2010, just two days after Business Secretary Vince Cable was stripped of his responsibility for media takeovers for saying he had 'declared war' on the Murdochs’ News Corporation empire.
Mrs Brooks’s wedding on June 13 2009 was attended by Mr Cameron and former prime minister Gordon Brown.
Mr Cameron was forced to admit in March that he rode a retired police horse loaned to Mrs Brooks by Scotland Yard from 2008 to 2010.
Mrs Brooks 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.
The Leveson Inquiry’s lawyers will not question Mrs Brooks or Mr Coulson about anything that could prejudice the continuing police inquiries or any potential future trials.
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