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Press victims in court challenge to axing of part two of Leveson inquiry

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‘Not the way forward’: Matt Hancock

‘Not the way forward’: Matt Hancock

‘Not the way forward’: Matt Hancock

Victims of "serious media intrusion" were told by David Cameron the second part of the Leveson Inquiry would go ahead, the High Court has heard.

Senior judges were told the then Prime Minister made a "clear and unambiguous commitment" at a meeting in November 2012 that Leveson II would proceed

The meeting was with Christopher Jefferies, Kate McCann and Jacqui Hames, who are all bringing a legal challenge against the Government's decision to cancel part two of the inquiry, along with Gerry McCann. Helen Mountfield QC, representing the four, told the High Court yesterday: "It is common ground that the claimants have been caused huge pain and harm by the misconduct of the media.

"The pain is ongoing... although none of them are here today, it is a painful thing to keep going over and over these things."

Leveson II was due to look into unlawful conduct within media organisations as well as relations between police and the press. But Culture Secretary Matt Hancock announced in March that reopening the "costly and time-consuming" inquiry - which reported on press regulation and ethics in 2012 - was not "the right way forward".

The decision was taken jointly by Mr Hancock and then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Lawyers for the Government argued whatever Mr Cameron said at the meeting "cannot and does not give rise to a binding obligation" to proceed with the second part of the inquiry.

Bristol landlord Mr Jefferies, who was libelled by the press when he was wrongly accused of the murder of Joanna Yeates in 2010, told the inquiry he was "vilified" by the media.

The McCanns complained of press intrusion into their lives after their daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007.

Former detective and Crimewatch presenter Ms Hames received apologies and damages from News Group Newspapers, part of News UK, and Trinity Mirror over phone hacking and other illegal activity.

Speaking after Mr Hancock's announcement, Ms Hames said the Conservatives had broken a promise by former Prime Minister Mr Cameron to finish the inquiry and she had "no confidence" in the Government.

Sir Brian Leveson heard the first part of the inquiry, which cost the taxpayer £5.4m, over 17 months and delivered his report in 2012.

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