Hillsborough Disaster Inquest Sees The Sun's Kelvin MacKenzie Defended By Trevor Kavanagh

Anger has reignited over the 1989 headline.

26/04/2016 19:01 | Updated 26 April 2016

The newspaper that ran an infamous Hillsborough disaster front page claiming Liverpool supporters stole from victims, urinated on police and blocked rescue teams has come in for stinging criticism today, after an inquest ruled that all 96 football fans were unlawfully killed.

Four days after the 1989 tragedy, the Sun headlined an article 'THE TRUTH', citing fans’ hooliganism as a contributing factor in the 96 deaths.

The Sun front page from 19 April 1989

A press conference held by families of the victims after the verdict - which also exonerated the behaviour of football fans at the 1989 disaster - banned all Sun journalists from entering.

Before the event began, organisers checked that there were no reporters from the tabloid there. A sign was also fixed to the door, reading: "NO ENTRY TO SUN JOURNALISTS".

But the Sun's political editor at the time of Hillsborough defended the paper's infamous 1989 front page.

Trevor Kavanagh, who now works for the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper as a columnist, blamed misleading reports from police and Downing Street. 

He also supported his old boss and former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who was responsible for writing the headline "The Truth" atop allegations Liverpool FC fans’ hooliganism was a contributing factor to the deaths of 96 people.

Speaking today, Kavanagh said of his involvement in putting together the original story that he was "not sorry at all".

"I didn’t have any involvement at all apart from to say that Downing Street had been told [the same thing]," he told the Guardian.

"We were clearly misled about the events and the authorities, including the police, actively concealed the truth."

The Sun
Trevor Kavanagh, left, defended his old boss Kelvin MacKenzie, right

Kavanagh backed MacKenzie, who also now works as a Sun columnist, by saying his former boss had made his position "abundantly clear".

"I don’t think Kelvin committed any crime...We have apologised many times and tried repeatedly to make amends."

MacKenzie himself reportedly told ITV News today that it was an "Absolute disgrace what police have done in South Yorkshire these last 27 years.

"I feel desperate for the families and the people and I also feel in some strange way I got caught up in it."

Fifteen years after the disaster the Sun apologised "without reservation" in a full-page leader for "the most terrible mistake in its history".

The Sun front page from 13 September 2013

In 2012, the tabloid led with a front page saying “we are profoundly sorry for false reports“.

An inquest jury ruled today, 27 years after the disaster, that every death was unlawful and exonerated all fans present.

Despite the passing of nearly three decades, the ruling laid bare how little the animosity of Liverpool fans towards the Sun has faded.

And when the paper published its story on the inquest's findings today...

...angry fans continued to direct blame at MacKenzie.

Earlier, the families and friends of victims of Liverpool supporters killed in then disaster cheered jurors from court, after they concluded the 96 fans had been unlawfully killed.

There were shouts of “God bless the jury” as the conclusions into Britain’s worst sporting disaster were read out in court. They found it was unlawful killing by a 7-2 majority.

The verdicts were greeted with sobbing and cheers at the hearing in Warrington.

Supporters then gathered outside to sing an impromptu rendition of Liverpool anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Within minutes of the findings being released, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed it would begin the process of formally considering criminal charges over the disaster.

The jury also ruled that fan behaviour did not cause or contribute to the tragedy.

Conclusions Are Reached On All 96 Deaths At The Hillsborough Inquest
Hillsborough Tragedy

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