"Ready for dinner"
Britain’s military veterans organization severed its ties with the News of the World on Thursday following a report that a detective employed by the tabloid newspaper had collected telephone numbers of relatives of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Royal British Legion said that it was dropping the newspaper as a partner in campaigns related to veterans’ issues and had suspended all other ties until the allegations are resolved.
The Legion said it was also reviewing its advertising in other News International papers, including The Times and The Sun.
The Legion acted after The Daily Telegraph reported that telephone numbers of relatives of dead military personnel had been found in files amassed by a detective formerly employed by the News of the World.
“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,” the Legion said.
“The hacking allegations have shocked us to the core.”
The detective, Glenn Mulcaire, served a prison sentence after being convicted in 2007 of hacking voice messages in phones of the royal family.
The Daily Telegraph did not identify the source for its report, which could not be independently verified. There was no indication whether any of those telephones had been hacked.
The News of the World issued a statement saying it would be “absolutely appalled and horrified” if there was any truth in the allegation.
Geraldine McCool, whose law firm has represented Samantha Roberts, widow of Sgt. Steven Roberts, the first British soldier killed in Iraq in 2003, said she had seen no evidence that confidential information had been obtained through hacking.
“I sincerely hope that any future revelations do not involve our clients and that full disclosure of the extent of this diabolical practice is now made,” McCool said.
The BBC reported that relatives of some soldiers say they have not been contacted by police, but that a newspaper had asked them about the possibility that their phones may have been hacked.
Police are investigating allegations that the newspaper hacked into telephones of relatives of murder victims, politicians and celebrities. It is also investigating payoffs allegedly made by the newspaper to corrupt police officers for information.
Meanwhile, the energy company Npower announced that it was pulling its advertising from the News of the World this weekend, joining other companies including Ford, Vauxhall, Mitsubishi.