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Paxman to give Leveson evidence

BBC presenters Andrew Marr and Jeremy Paxman are to take to the witness box at the inquiry into press standards.

Newsnight presenter Paxman and political journalist Marr will give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, as will former Labour defence secretary Lord Reid.

Former home secretary Lord Reid's appearance follows that of fellow former Labour cabinet ministers Tessa Jowell, Alan Johnson, Lord Mandelson, and Lord Smith.

Tory MP Stephen Dorrell, who oversaw media policy as heritage secretary in John Major's Conservative government in the mid 1990s, is also due to give evidence.

On Tuesday, Tom Watson MP, one of Rupert Murdoch's fiercest critics over the phone-hacking scandal, told the inquiry that ministers in the last Labour government were constantly mindful of how their actions would be portrayed by his newspapers.

Mr Watson, the party's deputy chairman, called for reforms to ensure the public can have confidence in ministers' relations with newspaper executives.

Former home secretary Alan Johnson defended his decision not to refer the Metropolitan Police's handling of phone hacking to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2009 during his evidence. And Lord Smith, who as Chris Smith was culture secretary in Tony Blair's first term between 1997 and 2001, said he regretted not doing more to tackle the behaviour of the press at that time.

The inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, is to hear from Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's former special adviser Adam Smith and News Corporation lobbyist Frederic Michel on Thursday.

Mr Smith resigned last month over his dealings with Mr Michel in relation to the BSkyB takeover bid after a raft of emails indicated that contacts between News Corp and Mr Hunt's office went further than previously thought.

The adviser admitted his contacts with Mr Michel "went too far" and created an impression that relations between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and News Corporation were "too close", but insisted the "content and extent" of his contact with Mr Michel had not been authorised by Mr Hunt, who has faced calls to resign himself over the issue.


From Belfast Telegraph