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Rupert Murdoch Calls Allegations His Newspaper Hacked Crime Victim’s Phone ‘Deplorable And Unacceptable’

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has made his first public statement on the newspaper scandal that has embroiled Britain, with Murdoch’s News of the World accused of hacking into the voicemail of celebrities and crime victims, including the cellphone of a slain 13-year-old girl. “Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable,” said Murdoch in a statement released Wednesday afternoon in the U.K. The News Corp. boss stands by one of his employees, Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World at the time of the alleged hacking incidents: “I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’ leadership. We are committed to addressing these issues fully and have taken a number of important steps to prevent them from happening again.”

The scandal, which has been unfolding overseas for months, has reached to the door of Number 10 Downing Street, with prime minister David Cameron calling for an investigation:

“We are no longer talking here about politicians and celebrities, we are talking about murder victims, potentially terrorist victims, having their phones hacked into,” Mr. Cameron said. “It is absolutely disgusting, what has taken place, and I think everyone in this House and indeed this country will be revolted by what they have heard and what they have seen on their television screens.”

News Corp shares fell on Wednesday by 3.3%% in early trading on Wall Street to $17.56 as investors reacted to the latest developments–including news that some of the UK’s biggest advertisers would pull advertising–or review further advertising–in the News of the World.

Ford, npower, Halifax, T-Mobile and Orange became the first large companies to announce such action as the pressure increased on both the newspaper and those who advertise in its pages.

The energy company was the quickest to react to the fallout from the allegations, with an npower spokeswoman saying: “We note the concerns which have arisen on the back of fresh allegations of phone hacking against the News of the World. We are currently reviewing our options.”

Halifax also confirmed that it was considering its options about advertising in the News of the World, adding: “We are sensitive to the views of our customers and will take them into account.”

Ford went furthest, however, saying it would be using “alternative media within and outside News International group instead of placing Ford advertising in the News of the World” while it awaited the outcome of the investigation.

It added: “Ford is a company which cares about the standards of behaviour of its own people and those it deals with externally.”

A spokesman for T-Mobile said: “We’re currently reviewing our advertising position with News of the World, following the recent allegations, and await the outcome of the ongoing police investigation.”

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