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Monday, February 27, 2012 

The Sun may yet set.

On Saturday and Sunday, both the Guardian and Independent suggested that rather than it being an atypical moment of Murdochian chutzpah and genius, the bringing forward of the launch of the piss-poor Sun on Sunday (or The Sun Sunday as the paper's front page has it) was to ensure it hit the streets before the worst of the allegations against the paper had come to light.

And so it has proved. You can really take your pick as to which are the most damaging. Sue Akers's statement to the Leveson inquiry made clear that the arrests as the Sun are about a "culture of illegal payments to sources", mostly for tittle-tattle, as the Management and Standards Committee suggested they were, and not about lunches and small-scale tips as unnamed voices from the paper have claimed. Next was the release of an email written by Tom Crone to Andy Coulson from 2006 at the time of the arrests of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, which makes clear that the police had identified around 100 potential phone victims then, making it incredibly unlikely that Mulcaire was being used only by Goodman as everyone at the Screws and News International subsequently claimed. And lastly, there's the substantial settlement with Charlotte Church, with Church setting out how the News of the World had effectively blackmailed her mother into giving an interview on her depression and self-harm, insisting on taking photographs of her arms.

Whether any of this will affect next week's Sun on Sunday sales remains to be seen. The Sunday red-top market was the most gaping of open goals considering how terribly poor the opposition is (only the Sunday Mirror comes anywhere near to being worth 50p) so it's no surprise whatsoever that a Sunday edition of the best selling daily paper has done well. Had we known last week though that there was such apparent compelling evidence against the Sun, many more voices would have been risen against a replacement coming out while the "swamp" is yet to be drained. In that respect, it is still a typically Murdochian triumph. Whether it continues to be is something else entirely.

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