The Royal British Legion has dropped News of the World as its campaigning partner, as the nationâ€™s leading Armed Forces charity representing bereaved military families expressed revulsion at the latest phone hacking revelations.
The decision was taken following the disclosure that the bereaved relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan may have had their phones hacked by a private investigator working for News of the World. The Legion has suspended all relations with the newspaper pending a resolution of the allegations.
â€śWe canâ€™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,â€ť said a charity spokesman. â€śThe hacking allegations have shocked us to the core.â€ť
The charity also said its advertising budget with News International is under review. It takes advertising space in The Sun and on The Sunâ€™s Forces Channel online to promote its welfare services offered to Armed Forces personnel past and present and their families.
Previously, the Legion had partnered with the News of the World in campaigning on Military Covenant issues, and was preparing to join forces in another campaign to save the Chief Coronerâ€™s Office from being abolished.
â€śClearly, it would make a mockery of that campaign to go hand-in-hand with News of the World,â€ť the spokesman added. â€śWe think weâ€™ll do better without them.â€ť
The Legion provides free legal advice to bereaved military families at inquest as well as offering them a wide range of support. Kevin Hart, one of the Legionâ€™s lawyers working closely with bereaved military families, said he was â€śappalled that their private lives could have been invaded.â€ť
He added: â€śThe Royal British Legion does its utmost to provide assistance and comfort to these bereaved families, who deserve the nationâ€™s utmost gratitude and respect. To think anyone would exploit their grief is frankly sick-making.â€ť
Michele Price, another of the Legionâ€™s lawyers working closely with bereaved Armed Forces families, added: â€śThe Legion acts as their voice and their champion. I feel that my families would expect inhuman behaviour on a remote battlefield but not at the hands of Fleet Street.â€ť
The Legion supports calls for a full judicial review into the matter with powers to call evidence and examine witnesses under oath.