Rupert Murdoch told staff at the Sun today that he will launch a new national Sunday newspaper, the Sun on Sunday, “very soon”, sources said.
Murdoch, who was visiting News International‘s Wapping headquarters, said “illegal acitivities simply cannot and will not be tolerated” but he announced that suspensions of all staff who were arrested recently over alleged corrupt payments will be lifted.
He praised the “superb work” of Sun journalists and said the recent arrests of nine current and former reporters and executives on the newspaper were “a source of great pain for me”.
Murdoch also said News Internatoonal would “everything we can to assist those who are arrested”, adding: “All suspensions are hereby lifted until or whether charged and they are welcome to return to work. Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise.”
In a memo sent to News International staff, Murdoch reaffirmed his support to The Sun:
“I’ve worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world’s finest papers. It is a part of me and is one of our proudest achievements. The Sun occupies a unique and important position within News Corporation.
“I have immense respect for our heritage, your exceptional journalism and, above all, you, the talented women and men who work tirelessly every day to ensure our readers have access to such a trusted news source. I believe this newsroom is full of great journalists and I remain grateful for your superb work and for the stories you uncover to inform and protect the public. None more so than over the last three weeks.
“My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you.
“We will obey the law. Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated – at any of our publications. Our Board of Directors, our management team and I take these issues very seriously.
“Our independently chaired Management & Standards Committee, which operates outside of News International, has been instructed to cooperate with the police. We will turn over every piece of evidence we find — not just because we are obligated to but because it is the right thing to do.
“We are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested – all suspensions are hereby lifted until or whether charged and they are welcome to return to work. News Corporation will cover their legal expenses. Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.
“I made a commitment last summer that I would do everything I could to get to the bottom of our problems and make this company an example to Fleet Street of ethical journalism. We will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources, which I know are essential for all of you to do your jobs. But we cannot protect people who have paid public officials.
“I am confident we can live by these commitments and still produce great journalism.
“We will build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon. Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before.
“Having a winning paper is the best answer to our critics.
“I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs. I am staying with you all, in London, for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support.
“I am confident we will get through this together and emerge stronger.”