London - Harry Potter author JK Rowling, the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann and actor Hugh Grant have been granted special status in a British inquiry into media ethics and practices, the probe said on Wednesday.
They are among 46 "core participants" who will be able to give evidence and seek to cross-examine witnesses in the inquiry, launched after a phone hacking scandal forced the closure of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World in July.
They include alleged victims of hacking, such as Grant, Hollywood actress Sienna Miller and the parents of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, whose voicemail was allegedly targeted when she went missing in 2002.
Other participants have complained about harassment by the British press, including Rowling and Kate and Gerry McCann, whose toddler Madeleine disappeared on holiday in Portugal in 2007, sparking a global campaign to find her.
Former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley and troubled ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne are also on the list, released by inquiry chairman Lord Justice Brian Leveson, as is former deputy prime minister John Prescott.
News International, the parent company of the News of the World, and the owners of the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and other papers will also be core participants.
They will take part in stage one of the inquiry, which concerns media ethics and practices, including press contacts with politicians and the police.
Stage two will look specifically at hacking at the News of the World and in other newspapers but this will not begin until the police investigation into the scandal is complete, which may take years.