Advertisers Ditch News of the World as Cameron Takes Heat

The tabloid may have also targeted victims of London's terrorist attacks

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The revelation yesterday that a private detective working for Rupert Murdoch's U.K. tabloid News of the World may have infiltrated and tampered with the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and her family reignited the long-simmering phone hacking scandal, and this morning the renewed outrage is manifesting itself in several ways.

In one development, News of the World is losing major advertisers--including Ford, Lloyd's Bank, Renault, and Coca Cola--in response to the public outcry. We only found one report of an advertiser confirming that it will stick with the tabloid: the supermarket group Morrisons, according to Daily Finance.

The web of potential phone hacking victims, which was initially confined to celebrities, athletes, royals, and politicians, is also expanding. The BBC is reporting that police have contacted the relatives of victims of the 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transit system to determine whether their phones had been hacked, and there are also reports that investigators have reached out to the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, two schoolgirls murdered in 2002. The investigation has now extended even to actor Hugh Grant, according to CNN.

In an emergency debate in parliament today, Prime Minister David Cameron (shown above leaving for the session) deemed the recent revelations "disgusting" and called for an independent inquiry into News of the World's behavior once the police investigation concludes. But Cameron himself is feeling the heat, since his former communications director, Andy Coulson, previously served as News of the World's editor. New evidence provided by News International, the tabloid's parent company, suggests Coulson may have authorized bribery payments to police officers, according to the BBC.

So far, News International's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, who edited News of the World at the time of the alleged Dowler hacking but denies any involvement in the incident, has resisted mounting pressure to resign, and Cameron, who is friends with Brooks, stopped short of calling for her to step down today. As for Rupert Murdoch? He heads to Sun Valley today to rub elbows with other media moguls but has yet to address the scandal, as speculation surfaces about whether he might cut News of the World loose or find it harder now to win British government approval for his takeover of British Sky Broadcasting. "Britain's Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has insisted he will decide the issue purely on competition grounds, without regard to the behavior of the News of the World," the AP explains. "But some members of Parliament are linking the two issues and demanding that Hunt block a takeover."

Meanwhile, whether it stems from media schadenfreude or legitimate outrage at one of the biggest press scandals in recent history, British papers have worked themselves into a frenzy over the latest developments, as you can see in this collection of today's front pages from The Guardian. The BBC and The Guardian are also live-blogging the latest developments.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.