The Sun newspaper has torn into Ed Miliband in further embarrassment for the Labour leader who was forced to apologise after he was pictured posing with a copy of the paper.
In an editorial leader, entitled 'Sorry excuse', the Sun said: "We’ve a question for Ed Miliband. What, exactly, is there to apologise for about having your picture taken holding our special England issue?"
"Our free publication — sent to 22million homes — is a celebration of England and Englishness, and of the values of print and newspapers. It’s also a significant contribution to the economy — which helps create jobs. Jobs for people who vote in elections (hint, hint).
"But Ed Miliband seems to think that’s all something to apologise for. David Cameron and Nick Clegg also posed with a copy. They won’t be apologising for joining us in celebrating England. It makes you wonder how Ed Miliband thinks he is going to persuade English voters to put him into No 10."
Miliband: sorry excuse pic.twitter.com/bbJJGb6pqY
— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) June 14, 2014
The Sun newspaper sent The Huffington Post UK a photo of the Labour leader gleefully holding up a copy of the tabloid to prove that our headline on this story, published Thursday, was "absurd".
Then, on Friday, the Labour leader faced calls to resign over the picture and was reportedly forced to make a humiliating apology.
Miliband is facing a fierce backlash from politicians in Liverpool after endorsing the newspaper’s campaign to deliver 22million free copies to homes across country in honour of the World Cup.
All the main party leaders have been pictured with the special edition of the Sun.
Miliband posing with the paper, in a photo sent to The Huffington Post UK
billion £ fine that sounds good to me... pic.twitter.com/9vG5cYods0
— karmacoma (@dejavousagain) June 13, 2014
The paper, which remains controversial over its coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, has been unceremoniously rejected by many homeowners and could have even fallen foul of the law.
The campaign has proved controversial with homeowners across the country – in particular in Merseyside, Cheshire and West Lancashire, where postmen are refusing to deliver the special edition.
Scores of people took to Twitter to show off handmade signs calling on posties not to deliver the free tabloid, while others commended the paper for not including a topless Page 3 model.
— Richard Stelling (@rjstelling) June 11, 2014
— Michele H Rashman (@MHRashman) June 12, 2014
— Liz Kirby (@thepoetliz) June 12, 2014
— Auntie Tiger (@TheBluestStar) June 12, 2014
Miliband has defended his decision, saying he was simply showing support for the England squad and not the newspaper, but has added that he understands the anger directed towards the promotional shoot.
But Labour Cllr Peter Mitchell has said Miliband should resign. “He should be thoroughly ashamed of his actions. I think he should consider his position as leader of Labour Party," he told the Liverpool Echo.
In a statement, Labour said Miliband "understands the anger that is felt towards The Sun over Hillsborough by many people in Merseyside and he is sorry to those who feel offended.”
Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said Miliband's apology was "a bit late" but criticised all three party leaders.
"At this moment in time, it was a stupid thing to do. You have got to think about all the people it affected," she added.
"I have met Mr Cameron, I have met Clegg and I have met Mr Miliband. The three of them have been very insensitive here, but more so, I think, Ed Miliband. He should have had more common sense."
The Huffington Post spoke to Labour MP Tom Watson, who has launched a campaign against the paper's promotional efforts. He said that he has been left "overwhelmed" by the support he has received.
The MP for West Bromwich East has now contacted the Royal Mail and Attorney General highlighting a possible breach of the Printers Imprint Act of 1961 and the Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869, asking for further investigation of the issue.
According to a letter sent by Watson, copies of the paper apparently lack a legally required imprint which shows basic address and contact details of the Sun’s printer – with 22 million copies at up to £50 fine per copy, that’s a fine of up to £1.1 Billion.
Mr Watson said "the law seems to be pretty clear and in this case, rigid.
"I await to see how the Attorney General will enforce the law but until then, I'm sure Royal Mail will take the precautionary approach and halt distribution until the situation is clarified by Dominic Grieve.
Media law expert David Banks told HuffPost the law seemed like as "oddity".
"If The Sun loses a billion pounds over this I will eat my copy of The Sun in the offices of The Huffington Post for your photographers," he said.
The Sun has long been scorned in Liverpool for its coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, after which it criticised the behaviour of Liverpool fans, suggesting they had robbed and urinated on victims and attacked police officers attending to the injured.
In 2012, it published a “profound” apology for what it said was an “inaccurate and offensive” report.
Sun managing editor Stig Abell told BBC radio 4's World at One on Friday that the special edition was "fun and lighthearted", and stressed it had not been delivered in the Liverpool area.
"We were of course very conscious of the sensitivities around Liverpool," he said.
"The Sun recognises that it was the biggest mistake in the Sun's history.
"It has apologised on numerous occasions for getting something so terribly wrong 25 years ago.
"So we absolutely accept that, we don't expect forgiveness from people in Liverpool and we have been very clear about saying that.
"What we are trying to do.. is celebrating both the idea of a print product getting to 22-odd million houses, and also celebrating the World Cup, Englishness, a feeling that summer is here and people want to have a good time."
Mr Abell added: "Ed Miliband appeared in the back of a black cab talking about the European elections a month ago, he has written for the Sun on Sunday... of course they want to get involved in this because we are trying to do something that unites the nation."
Meanwhile, there has been a continuing outpouring of anger from residents who are less than pleased about being sent the free copy of Rupert Murdoch's paper.
— Ben LeGrys (@benlegrys) June 11, 2014
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— Jessica Archbold (@Jellephant) June 12, 2014