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LONDON – Pressure is mounting on Rupert Murdoch‘s News of The World newspaper after the Ford motor company said it had withdrawn its advertising from the paper and other major brands including Tesco, Halifax, Orange and T-Mobile said they were reviewing their relationships with the paper.
At the same time readers have been Tweeting that they have cancelled online subscriptions to the Murdoch-owned Times newspaper and to Sky television. Thousands have bombarded advertisers with Tweets asking big brands like retailer WH Smith: “do you consider it ethical to stock a newspaper prepared to hack a murdered girl’s phone?”
The withdrawal of support from key partners comes as the paper is facing a growing public backlash and political firestorm after one of its investigators is thought to have hacked into the phone of murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
The investigator is believed to have deleted a number of messages at the time so that more could be intercepted leading police and Dowler’s family to mistakenly believe for a time that the 13-year-old was still alive.
Police have also contacted the parents of murdered 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman as well as families of the victims of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London in 2007, telling them that their phones may also have been illegally accessed.
Parliament has scheduled an emergency debate on the affair Wednesday amid calls for a public inquiry into the entire issue of criminality and invasion of public interest.
Despite the clamor for her resignation, News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks – a close Murdoch family friend and confidante – who edited of the News of The World during the period, has said she will not resign.
In an email to News of The World staff she said it was “inconceivable” that she had known or sanctioned the illegal phone-hacking.
“It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of the News of The World staff could behave this way,” she said in a copy of the email made public.
News International director of corporate affairs, Simon Greenberg told the BBC on Wednesday morning that the company had been “co-operating fully with the Police since January” on the phone-hacking issue and would continue to provide the police investigation with new information as it’s own internal investigation continued.
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