Rupert Murdoch claims 3m sales for the Sun on Sunday

The Sun on Sunday went on sale yesterday. Picture: Jon Savage
The Sun on Sunday went on sale yesterday. Picture: Jon Savage
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THE newly launched Sun on Sunday sold three million copies after it hit news stands across the country for the first time, according to Rupert Murdoch.

The media tycoon took to the microblogging site Twitter to announce: “Reports early, but new Sun edition sold 3m!”

On Friday he said News International would be “very happy” if the paper sold more than two million copies.

The newspaper came out yesterday with a pledge of “trust” and “decency”, following the damaging phone hacking scandal. It promised readers it would remain “fearless, outspoken, mischievous and fun”.

The newspaper claimed it would hold all journalists to account and said it had appointed a readers’ champion to deal with errors and feedback from the public.

However, the new title was was criticised for offering bland content and little separate identity to the daily paper.

Commenting on the English version’s front page, which featured TV personality Amanda Holden’s near-death experience giving birth, media analyst Roy Greenslade wrote: “Her soft- focus story sets the tone for the rest of the paper’s content. Calculated not to provoke, it runs on through page after page of rather bland material.”

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie said: “I like sleaze on Sunday, so I feel slightly robbed. This is not trying to be the News of the World with the Sun logo on it.”

The Scottish Sun on Sunday also attempted to score a political coup, as it claimed to name the date of the independence referendum, as Saturday, 18 October, 2014.

The front page story quoted a government source saying: “This date is being lined up as the day people will get the chance to vote for independence and equality for Scotland.”

In an editorial, the newspaper commented on the arrests of ten current and former employees over alleged corrupt payments to public officials, saying they were “innocent until proven guilty”.

It said the closure of its sister paper, the News of the World, which ceased publication last July at the height of the hacking scandal, was a “sobering experience”.

The editorial, titled: “A new Sun rises today”, said: “Our journalists must abide by the Press Complaints Commission’s editors code, the industry standard for ethical behaviour, and the News Corporation standards of business conduct.

“We will hold our journalists to the standards we expect of them. After all, a newspaper which holds the powerful to account must do the same with itself. You will be able to trust our journalists to abide by the values of decency as they gather news.”

It said the Sun has been a “tremendous force for good”, adding: “News International closed our sister paper the News of the World over the phone hacking scandal.

“Since then some of our own journalists have been arrested, though not charged, over allegations of payments to public officials for stories. We believe those individuals are innocent until proven guilty. It has been a sobering experience for our entire industry.”

Mr Murdoch, 80, travelled to the paper’s printers in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, to witness the new Sunday tabloid roll off the press for the first time.

Bosses at News International have recruited a clutch of celebrity columnists, including Katie Price and Nancy Dell’Olio for its latest title, while the Archbishop of York and chef Heston Blumenthal also have weekly slots.