Firms pull News of the World ads

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The Independent Online

A host of major companies have pulled advertising from the News of the World amid rising anger over the phone-hacking scandal.

The Halifax bank, Virgin Holidays, The Co-operative Group, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi are among a number of major brands to have cancelled deals with the newspaper in the wake of the latest allegations.

Their action follows that of motor giant Ford which said yesterday it was suspending its advertising in the Sunday tabloid.

The boycott announcements came as a consumer backlash gathered pace on Twitter with social networkers calling on readers to stop buying the paper entirely.

Another campaign urged more firms to suspend advertising in the red top.

In the most strongly-worded statement issued to date, The Co-operative Group, whose businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, banking, insurance and funeral services, said the recent claims had been "met with revulsion by the vast majority of members".

Stressing its "strong ethical standards," the company said it had opted to "suspend temporarily any further advertising and promotional activity with the News of the World until the outcome of the investigation is known".

"We would urge everyone involved to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion for the sake of all those who are affected by these events," it said.

A spokeswoman for Halifax parent company Lloyds Banking Group said the company had decided to pull an advertisement on Sunday in response to "consumer reaction".

"This was a tactical decision in the short term whilst we carefully consider our longer-term position and its implications," she added.

Virgin Holidays said it would not be taking up its small number of classified advertising slots this weekend.

"We will continue to monitor the situation on a week-by-week basis," a spokesman added.

The decision follows an announcement by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson who said this week that police had told him he might have been a victim of phone hacking by people working for the tabloid.

Mitsubishi said it had suspended all advertising in the News of the World while the paper was investigated over the Milly Dowler phone hacking allegations while Vauxhall also announced it had stopped placing adverts in the paper.

A spokeswoman for the motor manufacturer said: "Vauxhall has suspended advertising in the News of the World.

"It will reconsider its position pending the outcome of investigations into the allegations of phone hacking."

Meanwhile, Butlins said it would not place any adverts in this weekend's paper.

On Twitter, media commentator Roy Greenslade wrote: "Boycott News of the World. Tell everyone - stop buying the paper."

A similar sentiment was expressed on Facebook where numerous users expressed mounting public anger on the News of the World's own page while hundreds more joined groups including "Boycott 'News of the World' for phone hacking Milly Dowler!"