LONDON (Reuters) - News International, the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp group, announced on Sunday it would publish a Sunday edition of Britain’s scandal-hit Sun tabloid for the first time next weekend.
In an internal memo to all staff, News International chief executive Tom Mockridge said the first edition of ‘The Sun on Sunday’ would appear on February 26.
The announcement will appear on the front page of the Sun newspaper on Monday.
Nine current and former Sun staff have been arrested in recent weeks, after a secretive group set up by News Corp to trawl through emails, expense accounts and notebooks in a hunt for signs of criminality, passed information to the police.
The arrests were part of a wider investigation into journalists’ payments to police for tipoffs, and other illegal news gathering practices, that have rocked political, media and police establishments in Britain over the past year.
The Sun on Sunday will replace the News of the World, which News Corp abruptly shut last July after an inquiry into the use of telephone hacking to generate stories provoked a public outcry.
“News Corporation has made clear its determination to sort out what has gone wrong in the past and we are fundamentally changing how we operate as a business,” Mockridge’s memo said.
“The commitment of News Corporation to invest in a new edition is the strongest possible message of support we could wish for.”
The memo said Rupert Murdoch, who arrived in London last week to reassure employees at the Sun after the arrest of some of its senior journalists, would oversee the launch.
“I am sure every one of us will seize the opportunity to pull together and deliver a great new dawn for the Sun this Sunday,” the memo said.
Murdoch bought the Sun in 1969 and swiftly turned it into a sensationalist daily tabloid, renowned for political clout, campaigns, entertainment stories, sex scandals, banner headlines and topless “Page 3” girls.
The latest scandal to hit News International, which groups the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times, had sparked fear that Murdoch’s visit to London would signal the 80-year-old media mogul’s intention to quit the British media altogether.
Reporting by Stephen Mangan; editing by Tim Pearce