Sainsbury’s has become the first big grocer to suspend advertising in the News of the World as the phone-hacking scandal engulfing the tabloid worsened.

Sainsbury’s announced on social media site Twittter: “Due to the rising concerns of our customers we’re suspending any advertising in the News of the World until the outcome of the investigation.”

FTSE 100-listed Sainsbury’s is by far the biggest retailer so far to suspend its relationship with the newspaper, following allegations that it hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and concerns that it may have done the same to relatives of the 7/7 terrorists attacks in London and the families of British troops killed in Afghanistan.

The Co-operative Group, the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, and DIY specialist Wickes suspended their advertising in News of the World yesterday.

Other store groups such as electricals market leader Dixons and the UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, continue to monitor the situation closely.