Rupert Murdoch is sending out "mixed messages" after his announcement that News International will launch a Sunday edition of The Sun newspaper, the head of the National Union of Journalists has said.
In an interview with BBC News, NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stainstreet said: “I think it’s sending out incredibly confusing messages to all of those affected and all of those who work there.
“They’ve either done something that warrants a serious police investigation and suspension from work or they haven’t. It’s very mixed messages that Rupert Murdoch is sending out today.”
She said News International had done a "disservice" to British journalists.
“We have a situation now where confidential sources have been betrayed, where their information, their identity, has been handed over to the police, without any degree of internal insight, without any opportunity for the journalists involved to put heir side of the events internally, and without them being able to ascertain whether or not there are public interest arguments".
She added that the staff felt "betrayed" and "scared".
"Announcing [The Sun On Sunday] today was a deliberate attempt at a bit of a sop to journalists there to give them the sense that actually there is a future for them and for the newspaper here in the UK.”
Murdoch announced in an email to staff that The Sun on Sunday will launch "very soon", despite several ongoing criminal investigations against members of staff.
Ten current and former senior reporters and executives at the tabloid have been arrested since November over alleged corrupt payments to public officials.
Five Sun journalists - including the deputy editor, picture editor and chief reporter - were held for questioning by Scotland Yard officers on Saturday on suspicion of making improper payments to police and other public officials. They have all been bailed.
Murdoch announced the new paper while also lifting the suspensions of all arrested Sun employees who have not been charged "pending police investigations".
"Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before," Murdoch said in the email, it was reported on Twitter.
Also reacting to the news, Neville Thurlbeck, the former News of the World chief reporter, tweeted:
Former Sun editor David Yelland said:
But the Labour MP Chris Bryant who accepted a settlement from the News of the World after it emerged he was a victim of phone hacking, called the move a "cynical" response to the crisis.
And Murdoch's biographer, Michael Wolff, warned that just because Murdoch had pledged his support to the Sun there was no guarantee it would survive.