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The government's application will be heard in a special hearing this afternoon at 2pm

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The government has applied to become a "core participant" in the next module of the Leveson inquiry – potentially giving Whitehall early access to evidence and the right to make submissions.

The application will be heard in a special hearing this afternoon at 2pm. Module three of the inquiry, looking at the relationship between the press and politicians, begins next Wednesday.

"Core participant" status can be granted by Lord Justice Leveson to people or groups who "played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in matters to which this part of the inquiry relates".

The status gives them early access to documents, including witness statements, in confidence and the right to make submissions to the inquiry, suggesting questions to be asked.

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who will give evidence next Friday, has already been confirmed as a core participant. David Cameron and former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are also expected to give evidence shortly.

A number of MPs, including Tom Watson, Evan Harris, Chris Bryant, Simon Hughes and Tessa Jowell also have core participant status for the forthcoming module of the inquiry, as well as newspaper groups and the Metropolitan police.

Module three of the Leveson inquiry is scheduled to run until the end of June. The key questions it will address are available on the inquiry website.

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