Why Doesn't 'The Sun' Understand the Hurt It Caused?

28/04/2016 17:25

One of the biggest stories of the year, concerning the longest jury-trial in British history, on perhaps the most notorious miscarriage of justice this country has seen - and it wasn't deemed worthy of being on the front page of Britain's biggest-selling tabloid?

If it was just a bad editorial call, why did its Murdoch-owned stablemate, The Times, make the same misjudgement? Even now, in the face of incontrovertible evidence of the Hillsborough victims total innocence, they and their proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, give every impression of begrudging us this historic victory.

This is why the mood in my city towards The Sun remains one of raw fury. The newspaper's disgusting, lurid and baseless slurs against Liverpool fans - that they pickpocketed the victims, fought with police and urinated on the dead - did so much to manufacture the scurrilous narrative that they were to blame for the tragedy, which it took until this week to emphatically shoot down with the inquests' verdicts.

The Sun's coverage amplified the grief of the families and fans. The hurt caused was deep and genuine. The effects of the paper's tawdry coverage has lasted for nearly three decades.

But Kelvin MacKenzie, the editor at the time, now says he was "completely duped" after being fed the story by a press agency. Pull the other one. This is the classic defence of ignorance, in this case, from the ignorant.

MacKenzie was the useful idiot of a concerted establishment cover-up that transferred blame away from the incompetence of the police and towards the victims of their woeful mistakes. A chain of deceit that stretched from Downing Street to its favourite proprietor down to its reliable lackey of an editor.

Of course MacKenzie wasn't to blame for the 'first' Hillsborough tragedy - the death of the 96 and injury to 800 more - this was primarily the fault of the police (as the jury recorded this week); but he was a key player in the 'second' Hillsborough tragedy: the smearing of the dead and injured.

As I said in my speech at the Hillsborough commemoration outside St. George's Hall last night, there is one thing that today's editor of The Sun, Tony Gallagher, can do for us, one simple act of decency and contrition and that's to sack Kelvin MacKenzie as a columnist forthwith, as it's clear he hasn't got the decency to quit himself.

After all, there is no shortage of clapped-out, misanthropic right-wing hacks who can churn out mean-spirited bilge once a week, so why do they persist with MacKenzie? He is a disgrace to journalism and an abiding symbol of how the paper isn't really sorry for the hurt and harm it did to the Hillsborough families and Liverpool more generally.

Joe Anderson is Mayor of Liverpool