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Ford drops News of the World ads

Motor giant Ford says it is suspending advertising with the News of the World following allegations that the paper hacked the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

The announcement came as a further blow for News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who pledged her "full co-operation" with the police inquiry into the claims, which date back to her time as the paper's editor.

In a statement, a spokesman for the car-maker said Ford was "a company which cares about the standards of behaviour of its own people and those it deals with externally".

Two other leading companies, Npower and the Halifax, confirmed they were also considering whether to continue advertising with the paper amid a rising tide of anger at its alleged conduct.

As politicians from across the political spectrum vented their fury, Ms Brooks said she was "sickened" by the allegations and promised the "strongest possible action" against those responsible. She insisted she had known nothing of the alleged actions of a private investigator working for the paper and made clear she had no intention of standing down from News International.

Her comments however did little to assuage the growing chorus of demands for her to consider her position and for a full-scale public inquiry into the conduct of the press and the way that it is regulated.

The pressure intensified with the confirmation by police that the parents of murdered Soham schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, had also been contacted by officers on the hacking inquiry.

The condemnation was led by David Cameron who described the allegations that a private detective hacked into 13-year-old Milly's voicemail messages while police were still trying to find her as "really appalling".

In the Commons, Labour MP Chris Bryant - who believes his phone was hacked by the News of the World - employed a little-used procedural device to win a three-hour emergency debate on the issue to be held on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, News International said it had handed over new information to detectives. Its statement came as the BBC claimed the company had uncovered emails which appeared to show that payments to police had been authorised by the News of the World during the editorship of Andy Coulson.

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