Mohamed al-Fayed, the chairman of Harrods, has made his long-awaited
move into the UK media business with the launch of a new company,
Liberty Publishing will encompass the newly acquired Punch magazine,
which is due to relaunch in September after four years of suspended
publication. The new editor of Punch will be Peter McKay, a columnist on
the Evening Standard.
The company has also begun work on the launch of a new Sunday newspaper,
Life on Sunday. The five-section paper, which is likely to go head-to-
head with the Mail on Sunday, is not expected to launch for several
months, but dummies are now in production.
Al-Fayed has already installed two senior publishing executives to run
the company. Stewart Steven, the former editor of the Evening Standard,
will take over as chairman of Liberty. Steven retired from the Standard
at the end of last year and was previously the editor of the Mail on
The chief executive of Liberty will be John Dux, who was the managing
director of News International for four years but left the company in
March last year.
A statement from al-Fayed said that ‘the strategic goal of the company
will be to launch and acquire or take strategic interests in significant
The launch of the company follows several attempts by al-Fayed to break
into UK media. Al-Fayed had made a number of offers to buy Today from
Rupert Murdoch, but he was rebuffed.
He had also been linked with a consortium which had expressed interest
in acquiring the newspaper business of United News And Media, publisher
of the Daily Express.