Call to boycott papers ignored: Tabloids leave voluntary control body as PR adviser says Princess will not be 'too upset' and advertisers carry on regardless

THE advertising industry yesterday rejected calls to boycott the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror.

The call came first from Lord McGregor and was echoed by Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, on BBC Radio 4's World At One yesterday.

The Advertising Association said that a boycott would threaten the principle that advertisers should not try to interfere with editorial content.

Two Mirror group advertisers, the Royal Automobile Club and Autoglass, a car windscreen replacement company, declared their intention to boycott the newspapers. But none of the companies in the top six list of advertisers for either the Sunday Mirror or its daily stablemate expressed an immediate intention of pulling out, when contacted by the Independent.

Household names such as Dixons - which spent pounds 5.7m with the daily title last year - MFI and Comet decided not to comment, or said they would reserve judgement until later in the week.

Mr Brooke's remarks were not heeded by the Central Office of Information, a government agency, which was the Sunday Mirror's fourth-largest advertiser over the past 12 months, having spent pounds 656,306. A spokesman for the COI said: 'We will continue advertising as normal.'

A spokesman for the Department of National Heritage said: 'Mr Brooke was outlining options available to people who want to show their disapproval. He does not control the COI and cannot decide what they should do.'

Jeffery Rose, chairman of the RAC, said his organisation was withdrawing its advertising because it did not condone 'this unwarranted intrusion' into the princess's private life.

Autoglass said it was dropping the Daily Mirror from its advertisement schedule for the foreseeable future, adding: 'It's important for our ads to be carried in papers people respect and admire.'

The Britannia Building Society accused the Mirror group of action that was 'sleazy and incredibly stupid', and said it was reviewing its advertising policy, although it was contractually committed to continue advertising for the next three weeks. Simon Craven, the company's corporate communications manager, said he would be writing to David Montgomery, Mirror Group Newspapers' chief executive, to express his displeasure.

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