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LONDON – Army groups and military charities have accused Rupert Murdoch’s News International of “inhuman behavior” after it emerged that that the phones of the families of slain soldiers may have been hacked by investigators from the News of The World.
Sir David Richards, the chief of the Defence staff, condemned the actions, saying such an act of hacking would amount to a betrayal of soldiers who had died for their country.
“If these actions are proved to have been verified then I am appalled. I find it quite disgusting,” he told the BBC.
Defense Minister Liam Fox also added his criticism to the debate, blasting the intrusion, if true, as “an outrageous breach of trust.”
The allegations are understood to have surfaced in a sheaf of emails being examined by a police inquiry into the ever-widening investigation into the legality of the paper’s actions. The investigation has already uncovered the possibility that the paper paid for messages on murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone to be deleted, briefly giving the 13-year old’s family false hope that she was still alive.
Britain’s most venerable soldiers’ charity, the Royal British Legion, said it was “shocked to the core” following the disclosure that the bereaved relatives of soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan may have had their voicemails illegally retrieved.
The charity said it had “no choice” but to sever connections with the Murdoch-owned newspaper – which is a popular forces’ read – despite many years of charitable work with the newspaper in the past.
“We can’t with any conscience campaign alongside News of the World on behalf of Armed Forces families while it stands accused of preying on these same families in the lowest depths of their misery.
Michele Price, a lawyer for the charity who works with bereaved families , said that they should not face such a cruel attack after what is already an enormous loss.
“I feel that my families would expect inhuman behavior on a remote battlefield but not at the hands of Fleet Street.”
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