Charities reject News of the World advertising offer

News of the World The prime minister has promised two inquiries into phone hacking

A number of charities have rejected an offer to advertise free in the final edition of the News of the World.

News International is shutting the tabloid amid claims of phone-hacking and advertising space for Sunday's paper has been offered to good causes.

The Salvation Army and the RSPCA were among those to decline the offer.

But the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which launched a drought appeal for East Africa on Friday, said it would accept a free advert.

A spokeswoman said although it in no way condoned the "unconscionable" behaviour of some News of the World journalists and executives, there was a "humanitarian imperative" for it to raise the maximum income to help those affected by the drought.

On Friday, the Institute of Fundraising urged caution among its members when deciding whether to accept the offer of free advertising space from News International.

Seal of approval

"The decision as to whether a charity ought to accept a donation or not should be grounded in its mission and policy objectives," it said in a statement on its website.

"A clear policy on the acceptance or refusal of donations is important for all charitable organisations.

"Such a policy needs to be acceptable to all those associated with the charity and agreed formally by a charity's trustees."

A spokeswoman for regulatory body, the Charity Commission, said: "Ultimately it is the responsibility of a charity's trustees to ensure that any fundraising, including the acceptance of donations, is in the best interests of the charity.

"We encourage trustees to assess the advantages and disadvantages of new opportunities to fundraise, including any potential risks to the charity and its beneficiaries."

In the lead-up to the announcement of its closure, a string of businesses suspended or cancelled advertising with the NoW.

Among them were Co-operative Group, Lloyds, Halifax, Vauxhall, Virgin Holidays, Sainsbury's, O2, carmaker Ford and the government.

The Royal British Legion also cut its ties with the paper as its campaigning partner and put its advertising with News International under review.

Among the other charities to reject the free advertising offer were Care International, homelessness charity Thames Reach and Water Aid.

'Toxic brand'

"Given the nature of the controversy surrounding the News of the World, Water Aid considers it inappropriate to advertise in this newspaper," said Mike Foster, head of communications for Water Aid.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "We understand a round-robin e-mail was sent to all charities from the News of the World. A decision was made that the national RSPCA would not be advertising (with the NoW)."

Several charities - including Oxfam and Action Aid - said they were bound to decline the offer because they were part of umbrella organisation the DEC's East Africa appeal, which has been launched to help more than 10 million people affected by severe drought in the Horn of Africa.

A spokesman for Action Aid added: "I think the toxic brand would be a problem for our patrons."

Several charities contacted by the BBC said they had not been approached about advertising space. They included Barnado's, the Voluntary Services Organisation, the RNLI and animal welfare charity The Brooke.

The BBC tried to contact News International but it is yet to comment.

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