A string of top companies yesterday said they could pull advertising from the News of the World as the phone hacking crisis engulfing the newspaper continued to escalate.
Ford said it will not place adverts in this weekend’s edition and companies including nPower, Halifax and Everything Everywhere say they are considering cutting ads in light of damaging new evidence of phone hacking.
Virgin Media, Tesco and Brand Alley said they are awaiting the outcome of the police investigation into the claims before deciding whether to axe planned ads in the publication, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.
The scandal showed no sign of abating last night, with fresh allegations that the parents of murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, both killed by Ian Huntley, also had their phones hacked.
Earlier this week it was claimed that schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s voicemail had been hacked into after her disappearance, leading police to believe she may have still been alive.
In response to the news, a Ford spokesman said the carmaker “cares about the standards of behaviour of its own people and those it deals with externally”. He said the firm will spend the money advertising across other outlets, including other News International titles.
Another advertiser which spends millions with News International every year told City A.M.: “We have to look at the way our customers are reacting to this. There is a huge amount of negative publicity surrounding it, especially on Twitter, and you have to take notice of that.”
The loss of advertising will come as a fresh blow to the embattled organisation, which has already paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds to a string of celebrities whose phones were hacked.
Sienna Miller alone was awarded £100,000, and Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray was handed £20,000. Other alleged victims include ex-Labour minister Chris Bryant and former footballer Paul Gascoigne.
The newspaper has set aside in the region of £20m to pay off claimants it thinks have a chance of winning a legal bid. It is understood to be offering 10 per cent more than victims are likely to be awarded.
Then-editor and current News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks yesterday said she was “appalled and shocked” by the revelations, saying the firm will fully investigate. However, pressure on Brooks intensified last night, with Ed Miliband throwing his weight behind calls for her to resign.
Government sources yesterday reiterated that the scandal would have no impact on News Corp’s bid to buy the shares in BSkyB that it doesn’t already own. Ofcom could withdraw the satellite broadcaster’s licence but is highly unlikely to do so.
HOW ADVERTISERS HAVE REACTED TO THE PHONE HACKING SCANDAL
COMPANY : RESPONSE
Ford : Pulled advertising
nPower : Considering position
Halifax : Considering position
Everything : Considering
Everywhere : position
Tesco : Waiting for end of investigation
Virgin : Waiting for end of investigation
Brand Alley : Waiting for end of investigation