Cameron, ex-PMs to testify in U.K. hacking probe

British Prime Minister David Cameron waits to greet Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani as he arrives in Downing Street, London on May 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

(AP) LONDON - British media ethics inquiry said Friday that Prime Minister David Cameron will give evidence next week, amid questions over his ties to a number of suspects in the country's tabloid phone hacking scandal.

The judge-led inquiry, which Cameron set up to examine malpractice in the media and ties between politicians and the press, said it would also take testimony from ex-leaders Gordon Brown — who had an often-troubled relationship with British newspapers — and John Major.

It confirmed it would also take evidence from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Treasury chief George Osborne, Scottish leader Alex Salmond and main opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, who has been a vocal critic of Rupert Murdoch's media empire since the phone scandal erupted.

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Cameron, who will give evidence in a day-long session on Thursday, has been stung by his links to key figures in Murdoch's British newspaper operations.

His former communications chief Andy Coulson has been arrested and charged by police with perjury in a case connected to the scandal, while two of Cameron's friends have also been charged over alleged attempts to hamper the inquiry into phone hacking.

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Ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie — a friend of Cameron since their school days — live close to the British leader's home in southern England. Both face allegations of perverting the course of justice.

Coulson, who quit as Cameron's top media aide in January 2011, and Brooks are both former editors of the News of The World tabloid, which was closed down by Murdoch last July amid a wave of public revulsion at revelations that staff routinely hacked the cellphone voice mail messages of those in the public eye.

Charlie Beckett, director of the POLIS media institute at the London School of Economics, said Cameron's judgment is likely to come under scrutiny, but warned those who expect the leader to be humbled are likely to be disappointed.

"It's difficult to see what the killer questions are. As the politicians have given evidence the inquiry's tone hasn't had that same feel of a trial, as it did when journalists were being questioned," he said.