Just over six months after the closure of the News of the World, NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stainstreet said the News Corp chief was sending out "confusing messages" to staff at the paper.
In an email sent to staff in London titled 'A note from Rupert Murdoch', the media mogul sets out plans to replace the News of the World which was axed in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
"We will build on the Sun’s proud heritage by launching the Sun on Sunday very soon. Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before," he wrote.
Murdoch also lifted the suspensions of all arrested Sun employees who have not been charged "pending police investigations".
Following the arrest of several senior journalists at the paper this week on suspicion of making corrupt payments to public officials, he added: "I've worked alongside you for 43 years to build the Sun into one of the world's finest papers. It is a part of me and is one of our proudest achievements. The Sun occupies a unique and important position within News Corporation."
While one former News of the World staffer who joined the Sun said colleagues were "comforted and excited" by the news, The Huffington Post UK spoke to a former senior NOTW journalist who was less than happy. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: "We can't help feeling 'why did he close the News of the World when he's happy to open a new newspaper under a cloud'."
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.
Ed Miliband also said he was not overly keen to see Rupert Murdoch launch a new Sunday tabloid to replace the axed News of the World.
"I wouldn't say I welcome it," he said when asked on Friday.
The full email sent to staff reads:
I've worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world's finest papers. It is a part of me and is one of our proudest achievements. The Sun occupies a unique and important position within News Corporation.
I have immense respect for our heritage, your exceptional journalism and, above all, you, the talented women and men who work tirelessly every day to ensure our readers have access to such a trusted news source. I believe this newsroom is full of great journalists and I remain grateful for your superb work and for the stories you uncover to inform and protect the public. None more so than over the last three weeks.
My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you.
We will obey the law. Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated – at any of our publications. Our Board of Directors, our management team and I take these issues very seriously.
Our independently chaired Management & Standards Committee, which operates outside of News International, has been instructed to cooperate with the police. 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.
We are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested -- all suspensions are hereby lifted until or whether charged and they are welcome to return to work. News Corporation will cover their legal expenses. Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.
I made a commitment last summer that I would do everything I could to get to the bottom of our problems and make this Company an example to Fleet Street of ethical journalism. We will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources, which I know are essential for all of you to do your jobs. But we cannot protect people who have paid public officials.
I am confident we can live by these commitments and still produce great journalism.
We will build on The Sun's proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon. Our duty is to expand one of the world's most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before.
Having a winning paper is the best answer to our critics.
I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs. I am staying with you all, in London, for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support.
I am confident we will get through this together and emerge stronger.
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