Forged in controversy: Sun on Sunday is born

By Ian Dunt

The first new Sunday newspaper to hit Britain for two decades rolled off the presses today, amid claims it would soon be hit by new revelations from the Leveson inquiry.

Rupert Murdoch personally oversaw the final stages of production on the Sun on Sunday, which opted for a three million print run.

The media mogul said he would be happy with two million copies sold, putting it roughly where News of the World was at the point it was cancelled following phone-hacking revelations.

He is unlikely to be disappointed given the interest around a launch edition, but some media analysts are unsure whether a new Sunday newspaper can survive in such a tough market.

A lead editorial took the unusual step of reminding readers several of the newspaper's staff were under police investigation.

"As we launch the seven day Sun, we want to strengthen that connection [with readers] with a new independent Sun readers' champion to accept feedback and correct significant errors," it read.

"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."

The newspaper led with a fiver-page account of Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden's experience in hospital as she gave birth to her child. Forty-five out of its 92 pages were dedicated to sport.

Otherwise, the newspaper appeared to be fulfilling its promise to target a female demographic, with soft-focus celebrity pieces replacing the 'kiss-and-tell' content of its predecessor.

Meanwhile, a senior News International source told the Independent the paper was rushed out because executives felt it would be impossible for a new publication following the revelation set to be made at the Leveson inquiry this week.

Dramatic new evidence at the inquiry about the relationship between the media and the police could trigger a "bloodbath", according to the report.

It follows suggestions last week that police had briefed senior News International figures as the original investigation into phone-hacking had been ongoing. Other reports suggested emails concerning the case were still being deleted in 2010.

The Sun on Sunday went to print just nine days after it was announced by Mr Murdoch on an emergency trip to London.

With his newsroom in a mutinous mood and investors in the US increasingly convinced he should sacrifice his British print interests, the new tabloid is a last throw of the dice for the embattled media mogul.