Murdoch to launch new Sunday paper
London (CNN) — Media magnate Rupert Murdoch told staff at his embattled The Sun newspaper in London Friday that the company will launch a Sunday edition, as he seeks to rein in a crisis over alleged misconduct, News International confirmed.
Murdoch’s visit to News Corp.’s London subsidiary, News International, follows the Saturday arrests of five Sun journalists as part of an inquiry into alleged illegal payments to police and officials.
Staff at the paper have reacted angrily to the arrests and internal investigations of their journalistic practices, which they have likened to a witch-hunt.
The launch of a Sun on Sunday newspaper to replace the News of the World, a sister paper to The Sun that was shuttered amid a phone-hacking scandal in the summer, had been widely rumored.
However, this is the first time News International has confirmed that it will be established.
In an e-mail to staff at The Sun on Friday and released by News International, Murdoch said the company would “build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon.”
He also said he had great respect for the “exceptional journalism” produced by The Sun, but that it must abide by the law.
“My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you,” he wrote.
“We will obey the law. Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated — at any of our publications.”
In a sign of support for the arrested journalists, none of whom have been charged, Murdoch said all suspensions had been lifted and that they could return to work.
News Corp. will cover their legal expenses, he said, adding: “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”
But he made clear that the newspaper could not protect anyone who had paid public officials.
The arrests are part of Operation Elveden, an investigation running in parallel with a police inquiry into alleged phone hacking by the media, the Metropolitan Police said.
The five journalists, aged 45 to 68, were arrested at their residences in London, Kent and Essex on suspicion of corruption, aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office, and conspiracy in relation to both offenses, police said
Following the arrests, Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp, assured an executive he would continue to own and publish The Sun newspaper, according to an internal staff memo sent by News International Chief Executive Tom Mockridge.
Mockridge also said he was “very saddened” by the arrests of deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker and John Sturgis, who is a news editor. The five journalists were arrested at their homes, police said.
“I understand the pressure many of you are under and have the greatest admiration for everyone’s continued professionalism,” Mockridge wrote.