News Corp.CEO Rupert Murdoch will start a Sunday version of the British Sun tabloid "very soon," filling a void created when he closed the News of the World newspaper amid its phone-hacking scandal.
In a memo to staff obtained by Bloomberg News, Murdoch also said that 10 Sun journalists suspended after arrests tied to a police investigation into bribery could return to work until they are charged with a crime.
A Sunday edition of the Sun, Britain's best-selling newspaper, may help Murdoch win back weekend readers and contain growing discontent in the Sun newsroom. Trevor Kavanagh, associate Sun editor, called the arrests of journalists a "witch hunt" after the Management and Standards Committee, formed by News Corp. to assist police in their investigations of phone-hacking and bribery, said it had handed over information that led to the arrest of the Sun journalists.
"We will build on The Sun's proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon," Mr. Murdoch said in the memo today. "Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.'"
The plan for a Sun on Sunday shows that the closing of the News of the World was "just cynical," Chris Bryant, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party said in a comment on Twitter.
Mr. Murdoch told employees that he will stay in London for the next several weeks to give staff his "unwavering support."
The Management and Standards Committee estimates that at least 100,000 pounds ($158,000) was paid to public officials in the last several years, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.
News Corp. began digging through its employees' pasts after closing the 168-year-old News of the World over its hacking into the voice mail of politicians, celebrities and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. News Corp.'s Times newspaper in Britain is being investigated by police over possible computer hacking by a reporter.
"We cannot protect people who have paid public officials," Mr. Murdoch said today. "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." At the same time, he said, "we are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested."
Sun journalists arrested last weekend were treated like members of an "organized crime gang," Mr. Kavanagh said this week. The National Union of Journalists has spoken to lawyers about challenging the Management and Standards Committee's activities. The panel has interviewed employees and searched through emails and the use of private detectives, looking for signs of corruption, two people familiar with the investigation said in October.
-- Bloomberg News --