Kelvin MacKenzie has demanded an "apology and recompense" from South Yorkshire Police over the “personal vilification” the former editor received following the Sun’s coverage of Hillsborough.

MacKenzie, writing in tomorrow's Spectator magazine, said he suffered "personal vilification for decades" as a result of the Sun's front-page story which ran four days after the tragedy in April 1989.

The newspaper, edited by MacKenzie at the time of the tragedy, ran a now-infamous story under the headline "The Truth".

The article claimed that "drunken" and "ticketless" fans were responsible for the disaster that left 96 people dead, and that Liverpool fans urinated on police officers and stole from the dying.

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Kelvin has instructed his lawyers to get an apology from South Yorkshire Police

The Sun's report, which caused widespread revulsion in Liverpool and led to an almost-total boycott of the paper on Merseyside, was bought from a Sheffield news agency, which quoted unnamed sources in the South Yorkshire Police.

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The investigation by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, released earlier this month, exonerated fans from the allegations made in the Sun story 23-years-ago, finding that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or change "unfavourable" comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.

MacKenzie and the current editor, Dominic Mohan, made public apologies for the newspaper's reporting of the story following the Hillsborough report.

But the former editor has now instructed his lawyers to extract an apology from South Yorkshire police, the "source" of the agency story, highlighting the fact that he was in physical danger and faced personal threats following the story's publication.

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Writing in the Thursday's Spectator (extracts have already been published on the website), MacKenzie said: "Now I know — you know, we all know — that the fans were right."

"But it took 23 years, two inquiries, one inquest and research into 400,000 documents, many of which were kept secret under the 30-year no-publication rule, to discover there was a vast cover-up by South Yorkshire Police about the disaster. Where does that leave me?"

The former editor said in the Spectator article that police patrols have been increased around his house and describes "physical danger" he faces in Liverpool.

"But the people who have got away scot-free are South Yorkshire Police," he wrote, adding that he is seeking recompense for "the lies their officers told".

Mr MacKenzie goes on to say the allegations against the fans were also reported in other newspapers, and added: "Liverpool fans didn't turn on other media, only the Sun.

"That has always puzzled me. Was it picked out because the paper had always backed Thatcher, while the city had always been pro-Labour?"

Sue Roberts, secretary of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: "The gall of that man to paint himself as a victim and for him to ask anybody for an apology - it beggars belief.

"He was responsible for a story which was part and parcel of a cover-up designed to blame innocent victims for the disaster.

"He is trying to turn the tables, he is trying to excuse his role in the cover-up, and it stinks."

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: "South Yorkshire Police awaits Mr MacKenzie's letter with interest.

"It is well known that many media outlets ran similar stories at the time based on the same sources but chose to treat them differently.

"Mr MacKenzie was responsible for the particular headline he chose to run with."

The 96 Liverpool supporters died in a crush on April 15 1989 at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium, where their team were playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

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  • Hillsborough papers published

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  • Hillsborough papers published

    File photo dated 15/04/1989 of a Liverpool fan at Hillsborough after their FA Cup semi-final football match against Nottingham Forest. The families of 96 people killed in the Hillsborough tragedy will see thousands of official documents relating to the disaster for the first time today.

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  • Hillsborough papers published

    File photo dated 15/04/2011 of a Hillsborough banner at Anfield, as the families of 96 people killed in the Hillsborough tragedy will see thousands of official documents relating to the disaster for the first time today.

  • Hillsborough papers published

    File photo dated 15/4/2009 of a hans paying tribute at the Hillsborough Memorial in Liverpool. he families of 96 people killed in the Hillsborough tragedy will see thousands of official documents relating to the disaster for the first time today.

  • Liverpool Prepares For Hillsborough Disclosure Day

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  • Liverpool Prepares For Hillsborough Disclosure Day

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: The Hillsborough memorial is covered with tributes at Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club on September 10, 2012 in Liverpool, England. On Wednesday relatives and friends of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy in Sheffield on 15 April 1989 will see the full disclosure of all documents relating to the disaster when they are made public at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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    The front cover of 'With Hope In Your Heart' written by 51 year old Chris Whittle who lives in Burnley.

  • Hillsborough papers published

    Hillsborough Family Support Group members during a press conference at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral after the release of previously unpublished papers realting to the Hillsborough disaster.

  • Hillsborough papers published

    Hillsborough Family Support Group members Jenny Hicks (left) and Margaret Aspinall (right) during a press conference at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral after the release of previously unpublished papers realting to the Hillsborough disaster.

  • Hillsborough papers published

    Hillsborough Family Support Group member Margaret Aspinall, the mother of Hillsborough victim James Aspinall, during a press conference at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral after the release of previously unpublished papers realting to the Hillsborough disaster.

  • Hillsborough papers published

    Hillsborough Family Support Group member Trevor Hicks speaks during a press conference at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral after the release of previously unpublished papers realting to the Hillsborough disaster.