Royal British Legion Poppy

A Royal British Legion poppy

The Royal British Legion has severed ties with campaign partner the News of the World after allegations that an investigator working for the tabloid hacked the phones of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the latest development in the escalating phone-hacking scandal, a spokesperson for the charity said today, that it has suspended all relations with the newspaper pending a resolution of the allegations.

"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 spokesperson said.

"The hacking allegations have shocked us to the core."

The Legion has partnered with the News of the World in the past to campaign on Military Covenant issues, and was preparing to partner for another campaign to save the Chief Coroner's Office from being abolished.
"Clearly, it would make a mockery of that campaign to go hand-in-hand with News of the World," the Legion said. "We think we'll do better without them."

The charity's advertising budget for title is now under review. It also advertises with News of the World sister title the Sun and on the Sun's online Forces Channel.

Kevin Hart, one of the Legion's lawyers working with bereaved military families, said he was "appalled that their private lives could have been invaded."
"The Royal British Legion does its utmost to provide assistance and comfort to these bereaved families, who deserve the nation's utmost gratitude and respect. To think anyone would exploit their grief is frankly sick-making."

The Legion said it fully supports a full judicial review with powers to call evidence and examine witnesses under oath.

News of the World publisher News International said it is "absolutely appalled and horrified" if the allegations were true, adding that it was attempting to verify the claims.

Allegations that the News of the World hacked into the phones of families of war dead are the latest in a series of damning allegations this week about the tabloid's murky practices.

It was revealed on Monday that missing teenager Milly Dowler had been targeted by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, and subsequently that the families of the Soham murders and 7/7 bombings victims may also have been targeted.

It has also come to light that the Met police were passed evidence in January that the News of the World had paid police officers for information, with former editor and Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson reportedly sanctioning the payments.

Despite calls from the Labour leader Ed Miliband for News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks to step down over the allegations, Brooks has insisted she will stay and received the backing of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch.

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