Rupert Murdoch's new Sunday paper to replace the scandal-ridden News of the World will go on sale on 26 February.

News Intertnational chief executive Tom Mockridge told staff of the launch in an internal email.

"Rupert Murdoch said during a morale-boosting visit to his Wapping editorial offices that a new Sunday title would be published "very soon".

Rumours of a new Sunday tabloid started circulating soon after the News of the World shut down in July as the first high-profile commercial victim of the huge phone-hacking scandal around Murdoch's company.

Nine former and current Sun employees have also been arrested since November.

Mockridge told employees they should forget the past and start afresh.

"The commitment of News Corporation to invest in a new edition is the strongest possible message of support we could wish for. This is our moment. I am sure every one of us will seize the opportunity to pull together and deliver a great new dawn for the Sun this Sunday," he said.

One of Murdoch's most popular moves at last week's staff crisis meeting was to lift the suspensions of all his arrested employees

"It caught me by surprise. Mr Murdoch came round the editorial floor on Friday and said he was launching it very soon. We heard rumours of a date in April. This evening, astonishingly, we are told it's going to happen next week," Sky News quoted David Wooding, former political editor of the News of the World, as saying.

"We don't even know what the staffing levels will be at this stage. I'm told there will be extra staff taken on but this is not the News of the World in another guise, this is The Sun publishing on another day," he added