Hillsborough Tragedy: Kelvin MacKenzie, Former Sun Editor, Apologises To Liverpool For 'That Headline'

Kelvin MacKenzie Apologises To Liverpool For 'That Headline'

The former The Sun editor who published a story claiming Liverpool fans urinated on police, stole from the dead and beat up rescue workers during the Hillsborough disaster under the headline 'THE TRUTH' has apologised, saying he "too was totally misled."

Kelvin MacKenzie's apology came just hours after prime minister David Cameron urged MacKenzie to "face up to his responsibilities" over The Sun's coverage of the tragedy.

"I too was totally misled," MacKenzie said.

The Sun's current editor Dominic Mohan also apologised, saying: "Twenty-three years ago The Sun newspaper made a terrible mistake. We published an inaccurate and offensive story about the events at Hillsborough. We said it was the truth - it wasn't."

Kelvin MacKenzie has said he was 'totally misled'

Kelvin MacKenzie he had "no reason" to believe police and a Conservative MP would distort the truth: "Twenty three ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP [ Sir Irvine Patnick] were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium.

"I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster."

The story itself alleged a "mob" joked about molesting a dead girl, and quoted a high ranking police man saying: "The fans were just acting like animals. My men faced a double hell - the disaster and the fury of the fans who attacked us."

The reporter who wrote the story, Harry Arnold, later said told the BBC he regretted the headline, which he insisted was MacKenzie's, but said he had written the story in a "fair and balanced" way.

"When I saw the headline, 'The Truth', I was aghast because that wasn't what I'd written. I'd never used the words the truth," he said.

MacKenzie told him not to worry and said he would "make it clear that this is what some people are saying".

But the way the Hillsborough disaster was reported in the press has been a source of anger for more than 20 years.

The story prompted a boycott of The Sun in Liverpool, which remains to this day, despite the newspaper apologising for the "terrible mistake" in 2004.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told the Commons The Sun should apologise to the families of the dead, while Labour MP Chris Bryant called on MacKenzie to apologise.

Despite MacKenzie saying the coverage was a "fundamental mistake" in 1993, he appeared to backtrack in 2006, telling a business lunch he was "not sorry then and I'm not sorry now."

"All I did wrong there was [to] tell the truth."

But on Wednesday he said: "Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline."

Trevor Hicks who lost two children at Hillsborough said MacKenzie's apology was "too little, too late."

Former Tory MP Patnick, who was knighted in 1994, said nothing as he left his home in the south-west of Sheffield on Wednesday afternoon, despite calls from Labour MP John Mann for his knighthood to be withdrawn.

Mann said “the shameful and disgusting behaviour of Sir Irvine Patnick is a significant feature in the Hillsborough independent Panel Report and his Knighthood should be removed immediately. David Cameron should now do the right thing and take the necessary steps to do this”.

He walked out of the stone-built detached property and refused to answer questions from waiting reporters.


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