by Ray Fleming

W hen Rupert Murdoch was last seen in public in Britain he spoke of how humble he felt having to defend his newspapers against allegations of phone-hacking to a committee of MPs. Yesterday we saw a very different Murdoch, telling the staff of The Sun who were in a state of near-revolt that “I have worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world's finest newspapers. It is part of me and one of our proudest achievements.” He undertook to end the suspension of ten journalists, arrested and questioned but not charged by the police, to enable them to return to work pending further inquiries. And in a masterful stroke he announced that, far from being at risk of closure as some journalists had feared, The Sun would become a seven day-newspaper “very soon”. However, Mr Murdoch defended his company's independent Management and Standards Committee which has raised The Sun journalists' anger for what they see as its over-active cooperation with police inquiries into alleged bribery of public officials. He said “illegal activities cannot be tolerated”. Mr Murdoch promised to remain in London for some time. It will be surprising if he does not receive an invitation from Lord Justice Leveson to give evidence at his inquiry into the “culture, practices and ethics” of the British press.

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