Sun And Times Front Pages Ignore Hillsborough Disaster Verdict

Fury over page 1 black-out.

27/04/2016 07:23 | Updated 27 April 2016

The Sun has sparked anger by not mentioning the Hillsborough disaster inquest verdict on its front page, 27 years after its coverage accused fans of causing the disaster.

The UK's biggest-selling newspaper has long been boycotted by a large number of people in Liverpool over its coverage of the tragedy, which it blamed hooliganism for the deaths under the front-page headline: "The Truth".

In 2012, the paper ran a front page apology after the Hillsborough Independent Panel exonerated fans and and concluded there had been a large-scale cover-up by the South Yorkshire Police. The inquest came to the same conclusion on Tuesday.

The Sun's decision not to publish any detail of the inquest on its front page, in contrast to almost every other national newspaper, prompted widespread dismay.

Others, too, mentioned how The Times, The Sun's News UK stablemate, opted to not put the story on its front page, something the paper corrected in a subsequent edition and apologised for.

In a statement, the paper said: "The Times led with Hillsborough coverage on all our digital editions throughout the day.

“This morning we have covered it extensively in the paper with two spreads, the back page, a top leader and an interactive on the victims.

“We made a mistake with the front page of the first edition and we fixed it for the second edition.”

The Times did put out a second edition that replaced the picture with one showing the relatives of the dead celebrating the new verdicts.

This followed the online backlash against the decision, including a tweet by one of its own sports journalists, Liverpudlian football writer Tony Barrett.

The second edition also inserted a trail at the top of the page for its Hillsborough coverage inside in the paper, calling it: "An end at last to smears and lies."

The Times

The Sun's and The Times' decision not to put it on the front page contrasts with every other national front page on Wednesday, which mention the verdicts.

The Metro's front page mocked The Sun's original front page, declaring "THE TRUTH" and laying out the actual facts of what happened, as the inquest had established them.


Local paper The Liverpool Echo ran a special late edition, produced after the verdicts were announced earlier in the day, featured lyrics from the Liverpool football anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Over a backdrop of the Royal Liver Building at sunset, it read: “After the end of the storm is a golden sky.”

Liverpool Echo

The edition on Wednesday dedicated 37 pages to Hillsborough, reporting "at last a city is vindicated. Now, the pressure mounts on the cowards and the liars."

On Sky News, The Sun's Political Editor Tom Newton-Dunn said the 1989 front page was the "worst thing we ever did as a newspaper".

He but was questioned about the decision not to put the story on the front.

He said: "I think we can discuss editorial judgements about what should and shouldn't be on the front page.

"Yet another story 'No apology from the Sun' - I don't think it should all be about the Sun - it was not us who committed Hillsborough."

The tabloid ran a leader on page 10, in which it said: "We apologised prominently 12 years ago, again four years ago on the front page and do so unreservedly again now.

"Further, we pay tribute to the admirable tenacity of the friends and relatives over so many years on behalf of the 96 who died."

The Sun and The Times both devote double-page spreads to the inquest - deep within the paper.

On Tuesday, a press conference held by families of the victims after the verdict 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”.

Kelvin Mackenzie, who was editor of The Sun in 1989, told ITV News on Tuesday that it was an “absolute disgrace what police have done in South Yorkshire these last 27 years".

He added: “I feel desperate for the families and the people and I also feel in some strange way I got caught up in it.”

Trevor Kavanagh, a columnist for the paper and political editor at the time of Hillsborough, defended his small role in putting the original story together.

“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.”

Guardian media columnist - and former Sun journalist - Roy Greenslade wrote an article noting that "none of the Sun’s current senior staff (and the overwhelming majority of its entire staff) were working there in 1989".

But he notes that Mackenzie still has a column and earlier this year, joked in a column that he might be ennobled as "Lord Kev of Anfield".

A petition was launched, calling for Mackenzie to be dismissed as a columnist, for "prolonging the agony of the fans’ families and spreading lies about the fans through his newspaper."

Suggest a correction