FALLEN hero Kris O’Neill’s brother has hit out over claims that dead soldiers’ families may have been victims of phone hackers at the News of the World.
Mick O’Neill said the allegations, which last night prompted the closure of the paper, were disturbing for Kris’s widow Tina and relatives of the Sowerby corporal who died in Iraq in 2007.
The 35-year-old, of Halifax, said: “It’s appalling to find out that what should have been private calls might have been listened in to while you were trying to deal with all that grief.
“The grief never goes, but you learn to cope with it and this drags it all back to when it first happened. It’s awful.”
The family has not yet been contacted by police investigating the scandal, but Mick said he had noticed some “unusual activity” after the tragedy.
He said the newspaper tracked his family down very quickly and journalists even followed them from Halifax to Scunthorpe, where Tina had gone to stay with her parents.
Tina, who granted an interview to the News of the World the week after losing her husband, said she would feel particularly betrayed if her phone had been hacked.
She said: “It would be a complete breach of trust and it’s disgusting.”
Mick said he would be boycotting the paper from now on.
“For it to portray itself as being supportive of the armed forces and then for it to come out that they have been hacking into families’ phones – it’s disgusting,” he said.
It emerged yesterday that Samantha Roberts, the Shipley widow of Sergeant Steven Roberts, has been warned her phone may have been hacked.
The Royal British Legion yesterday dropped the News of the World as its military campaigning partner following the news.
The tabloid’s owner, News International, said it would be “appalled and horrified” if the allegations were true.
The families of victims of the 7/7 terrorist bombings and murdered teenager Milly Dowler are also among those alleged to have been targeted by the newspaper, along with a number of celebrities and public figures.
Halifax MP Linda Riordan is backing calls for an inquiry into the “sordid affair”.
She said: “What has taken place, with fresh allegations coming out by the hour, is absolutely disgusting, disgraceful and abhorrent.
“I have spoken with many people in Halifax about this and they feel sick to the stomach about what’s gone on.
“No stone should be left unturned in the search for the truth. At the moment there seems to be a lot of people denying things, but no one actually taking any responsibility for sanctioning these terrible actions.
“An inquiry needs to find answers as well as posing questions.”