Rupert Murdoch is to rush his remaining UK tabloid newspaper The Sun into seven-day publication next week as he continues a fightback against the legal problems that had threatened to engulf the title.
The Sun on Sunday will publish for the first time on February 26, two months earlier than originally planned, as Mr Murdoch took personal command of the situation.
The 80-year-old chairman and chief executive of News Corp flew in to London on Thursday, five days after five more of The Sun’s senior journalists were arrested on suspicion of making payments to public officials. That brought to 10 the number of staff arrested in connection with offences under the 1906 Prevention of Corruption act. All 10 have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
Before the phone hacking scandal exploded last July, there were already moves afoot to merge certain operations of The Sun and the News of the World and senior journalists on both titles expected them to become increasingly like a seven-day publishing operation.
One former News of the World journalist, who said he would not be joining The Sun on Sunday, said after hearing the news: “Rupert has got his seven-day publishing sooner than he expected. All it cost me was my job.”
But others among more than 150 of the 200 or so who were made redundant and could not be found new work within News Corp said they were delighted by the news and hoped to become part of the Sunday title, which one insider said would have to recruit some news staff.
Journalists from the existing Sun staff will produce the first edition of the Sunday title, according to insiders, with Dominic Mohan, editor of the daily paper, reportedly exhorting staff in an email to work seven days a week to make the new title a success.
Mr Murdoch will personally oversee the launch, according to Tom Mockridge, chief executive of his UK papers’ parent company, News International.
Get alerts on Leveson inquiry and phone hacking scandal when a new story is published