Desmond delays launch of his new Sunday Star

Star editor Hill, left, and Desmond in rethink over Sunday launch plan

There will be no Sunday Star before late summer or autumn.

The launch of the Daily Star’s weekend companion has been delayed for at least three or four months while Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond and the Star team thrash out a viable business plan.

Last week Press Gazette reported that tension was increasing between Desmond and Daily Star editor Peter Hill and his executives over the staffing levels that would be needed for the new paper.

The upshot seems to be a rethink, not on the plan to have a Sunday paper – that commitment seems to be still there – but on the mechanics and cost of a national paper launch.

The Daily Star’s editorial staff is not big and the idea of producing a seven-day paper with little more than the current levels found some fierce opposition from the journalists. The force of their argument in some tough discussions with the boss seem to have won the day.

Press Gazette reported that the Press Association had been called in for talks on supplying news and sport for the new paper and, possibly, helping to produce it. But PA has already got a full house when it comes to production, having taken on The Business and a section of Hello!

Now, reported launch dates for the Sunday Star at the end of May or early June – in time for the World Cup – look premature.

Desmond’s spokesman said: "The rumour mill got a bit out of control over recent weeks. The launch date was always flexible but it remains something that is clearly on the company’s horizons."

Sources say that once everyone had made their points in the meetings between Desmond and his editorial staff, it was mutually decided there should be a rethink on what the commitment should be, what it would take and what it would cost.

All the creative processes will continue, with dummies being put together, say sources, but it will not be the instant seven-day Star that Desmond would like to have seen.

When Robert Maxwell launched the London Daily News, he announced at a press conference that it would be a 24-hour paper without first telling his top editorial team, who sat dumbstruck.

A senior journalist who knows Desmond well said: "Apart from the dishonesty, the parallels with Maxwell are immense. Richard is as honest as the day is long but he does have these fiery, spur-of-the moment, ‘I want it now – just do it’ times. This thing needs thinking through so that it happens in an effective, sustained way."

By Jean Morgan

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