British Tabloid May Have Hacked Phones of Dead Soldiers’ Relatives

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:45 am (UTC-5)
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The phone hacking scandal at one of Britain's best-selling tabloids intensified with reports that relatives of dead soldiers were among those targeted.

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said a private detective working for the News of the World tabloid may have hacked into the phones of family members of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In response to the allegations, military charity the Royal British Legion announced it is dropping the paper as a campaigning partner.

The tabloid's parent company, News International, said it would be “absolutely appalled and horrified” if the claims are true. News International is owned by Australian-American tycoon Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

The latest allegations follow outrage over reports the tabloid also may have intercepted voicemails sent to the phones of murder victims and their families. Those suspected to have been targeted include several schoolgirls murdered in 2002 and relatives of victims of the 2005 London transport bombings.

The reports say investigators also believe News of the World staff may have bribed police officers for information about those victims.

In remarks to the British parliament Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron called for “public” and “independent” inquiries into the allegations and into the failure of the original police probe into the hacking.

The phone hacking allegations against News of the World trace back several years. In 2007, a News of the World reporter and a private investigator hired by the paper were jailed for intercepting the mobile phone messages of British royal officials. The tabloid is also accused of hacking the phones of politicians and celebrities.

Some critics of the original investigation have suggested the London police were too close to the newspaper, a claim the police deny.

Several companies have suspended advertising deals with the newspaper in response to the widening scandal, including car makers Ford, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi, British bank Halifax and travel company Virgin Holidays.