The Co-operative Group has become the first major retailer to suspend advertising in The News of The World (NOTW) following allegations that the paper hacked into the phones of crime victims.
Pressure has mounting all day on major British retailers to end advertising in NOTW following new disturbing revelations about phone hacking emerged.
Claims surfaced yesterday that the newspaper, owned by News International, hacked the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler during the police investigation into her disappearance and deleted voicemail messages.
A statement from Co-op read: “The Co-operative Group has taken the decision to suspend temporarily any further advertising and promotional activity with the News of the World until the outcome of the investigation is known.
“The group is a consumer-owned business which adheres to strong ethical standards. These allegations have been met with revulsion by the vast majority of members who have contacted us.”
Whilst police have announced that they have opened an investigation into the claims, voices within the media and on social networking sites have begun to demand that major advertisers cancel deals made with NOTW.
Last night car manufacturer Ford and blogsite Mumsnet pulled deals with News International and this morning building society Halifax also has followed suit.
Supermarkets regularly take out full-page ads with the newspaper but so far none of the four largest grocers have backed a boycott, with Tesco coming closest by admitting it is considering its position.
Sainsbury’s went less far, with a spokesman saying “it would be prudent to await the outcome of the investigation” whilst Morrisons has said it has “no plans” to change its advertising policy.
The decision of Asda, which has thus far remained silent, may be crucial to the stance of the others, as every retailer appears to be watching others on how they react to the scandal.
Outside of grocery, the Telegraph has suggested that Dixons was reviewing its relationship with NOTW, but the electricals retailer would only officially say: “There are a number of factors that determine our media planning and we constantly review all the media we use.”
As other allegations emerge that people associated with the 7/7 bombings and the Soham murders also had their mobile messages intercepted by the newspaper, it seems that public condemnation will only intensify.
In 2007 ex-NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman & private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for illegally intercepting voicemail messages to help produce stories for the newspaper, and at the time the press organisation claimed that Goodman had worked as a ‘rogue reporter’ outside of its knowledge.