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Murdoch in London to launch new tabloid
Media tycoon arrives to ease fears at newspaper rocked by arrests linked to ongoing corruption investigation.
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2012 20:35


Rupert Murdoch has pledged to launch a Sunday edition of his scandal-hit Sun tabloid in a bid to win over angry staff.

Murdoch, 80, arrived in London on Friday to reassure employees after the company supplied information to police which led to the arrest of some of the most senior journalists on the paper in an investigation into illegal payments to public officials.

He said that News Corp would soon launch a Sun on Sunday to replace the News of the World, which was abruptly shut last year after an inquiry into telephone hacking to generate stories.

"I've worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world's finest papers," Murdoch said in an email to staff. "My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you".

Al Jazeera's Sonia Gallego, reporting from London, said the message attached to Murdoch's abrupt arrival was clear: "It shows he will do whatever he can to save the newspaper."

Even so, she said, that there were some "very angry reporters" in the Sun office.

"Many of them are furious after some of their colleagues were arrested as part of a corruption investigation," she said.

'Unwavering support'

Murdoch later visited the newsroom floor of the Sun with his eldest son Lachlan, prompting speculation about what that meant for son James, who had been seen as heir apparent at News Corp before the hacking scandal blew up.

A source familiar with the situation played down the significance of the appearance, saying James had been busy and
wanted Lachlan at what was likely to be a difficult meeting.

The latest arrests sparked the most bitter row within News Corp's British newspaper arm since a radical overhaul of print
unions sparked violent clashes in the 1980s.

Coming on the back of the closure of his 168-year-old News of the World, the latest row prompted many to consider whether  the Australian-born Murdoch would quit British media altogether.

"I am staying with you all, in London, for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support," he said. "I am
confident we will get through this together."

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.

But executives at his corporate headquarters in New York, who watched in dismay last year as the phone-hacking scandal dragged down the company's reputation and share price, do not share his love of newspapers.

Signs of criminality

A secretive Management and Standards Committee (MSC) set up by Murdoch has handed information to police after examining 300 million emails, expense accounts and notebooks in the hunt for signs of criminality.

Murdoch said the committee would continue to work with the police and illegal activity would not be tolerated. But he said those journalists who had been arrested would have their suspensions lifted and could return to work.

Many staff feel they have been hung out to dry after competing fiercely for years to break news and keep the Sun
ahead of its rivals.

Staff on the Sun have spoken in the last week about a "civil war" breaking out at the company, with many consulting lawyers. "We will obey the law," Murdoch said.

"Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated - at any of our publications. 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."

The MSC was designed to show, particularly in the US, that the group was doing all it could to cooperate and
to detoxify its assets.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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