'Sun on Sunday' edges step closer with hiring spree

  • @iburrell

The possibility of Rupert Murdoch launching a replacement Sunday newspaper for the defunct News of the World increased yesterday as News International created a series of new senior jobs.

The posts are for senior roles on The Sun, which is widely expected to launch a Sunday edition early next year, sources at News International said last night. The most likely editor would be Victoria Newton, the former deputy editor of the NOTW and currently the third most senior figure on The Sun, which is edited by Dominic Mohan.

News International is anxious to retain the services of a number of senior NOTW staff, whose abilities are seen as valuable to a future Sunday tabloid. "These jobs have been ring-fenced for former News of the World people," said one journalist from the company. Another commented: "These are holding jobs until the launch of the Sunday version of The Sun." News International last night denied that was the intention. "There are no plans to launch a Sunday version of The Sun at the moment," said a spokeswoman.

Speculation on the launch of a Sunday edition of Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper emerged in July in the immediate aftermath of the closure of the NOTW over the involvement of some of its journalists in phone hacking. Later that month, Mr Murdoch's son James told a parliamentary committee investigating the phone-hacking scandal that the company had "no immediate plans" to launch a replacement Sunday paper.

Rupert Murdoch told the same committee that News International was making "every effort" to find posts for the 283 people who lost their jobs when the NOTW closed. It subsequently emerged that the paper's staff had been offered positions in News Corp outposts including Siberia and Bulgaria.

The raft of new roles on The Sun suggests that the company is anxious to keep a number of specialists from the former Sunday title. Jane Atkinson, the NOTW's former Manchester-based chief feature writer, is understood to have been offered a role on The Sun as a Northern-based reporter. The NOTW's former political editor Dave Wooding, who is a close friend of Ms Newton, is understood to have been offered a role as associate features editor. The development may have been prompted by talented writers moving elsewhere, such as former NOTW film critic Robbie Collin joining The Daily Telegraph.

News International insiders anticipate that the company will launch a Sunday Sun early in the New Year, possibly in January when rivals will have less advertising revenue to spend on marketing.

Yates 'still working for Met'

* John Yates, Scotland Yard's former head of counter-terrorism who resigned in July, will not formally step down from his role until November.

The Metropolitan Police Authority said Mr Yates had been on leave and handing over his duties to his successor, Cressida Dick, since he stepped down over the phone-hacking scandal. The Independent Police Complaints Commission cleared Mr Yates of any wrongdoing over his handling of phone-hacking investigations. An inquiry continues into claims he helped secure a job for the daughter of Neil Wallis, former deputy editor of the News of the World.