Hillsborough disaster: Kelvin MacKenzie apologises for ‘hurt’ caused by The Sun’s 1989 front page
The headline 'The Truth' carried the accusations Liverpool fans pickpocketed victims and assaulted police officers Olivia Blair |
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The former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie has apologised for the “hurt” he caused when the newspaper ran a headline which accused Liverpool fans of being drunk and abusive during the tragedy.
Four days after the disaster at the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield in April 1989, The Sun ran the headline “The Truth” which accused Liverpool fans of being drunk, pickpocketing victims, urinating on “brave” police and assaulting police officers. Following the headline The Sun was boycotted in Merseyside and many Liverpudlian newsagents refuse to sell it today. In yesterday’s Liverpool Echo coverage online they do not mention the paper fully, putting an asterisk in the middle of its name.
MacKenzie was editor of the paper at the time and later admitted it was his “decision alone” to run with the front page of which he said the story came from a Sheffield news agency and cited sources including a senior police officer as well as a Conservative MP. It has been claimed fellow journalists warned him against the front page.
Responding to the decision by a long-running inquiry which found on Tuesday that all 96 victims of the disaster were “unlawfully killed” and Liverpool fans were not to blame for the crush, MacKenzie issued a statement apologising.
“Today’s verdicts are an important step in obtaining justice for the victims. My heart goes out to those who have waited so long for vindication,” he said.
“As I have said before, the headline I published was wrong and I am profoundly sorry for the hurt caused. Clearly, I was wrong to take the police’s version of events at face value and it is a mistake I deeply regret.”
MacKenzie, who still writes for the paper, also told ITV news he “absolutely” agreed with the jury’s verdict. “It’s been an absolute disgrace what the police have done in south Yorkshire this last 27 years, I feel desperate for the families and the people and I also feel that in some strange way I got caught up in it […] everybody got sent this agency story, I printed it in that way but honestly the way it affected those families was a disgrace, I’m delighted for those families.”
The paper apologised for its reporting of the disaster in 2004 and again in 2012 after the Hillsborough report was released. MacKenzie wrote: “It would have been far more accurate had I written the headline ‘The Lies’ rather than ‘The Truth’.” An editorial in the paper called the 1989 report “the blackest day in this newspaper’s history”.
MacKenzie was also doorstopped by Channel 4 news in 2012 where he refused to make any further comment on camera saying he’d “already explained how sorry I am”.
The findings of yesterday’s ruling are notably absent from The Sun’s from page today. The Times, who are also owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp group also failed to put the findings on the front page of its first edition.Additional reporting by the Press Association. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/hillsborough-disaster-kelvin-mackenzie-apologises-for-hurt-caused-by-the-sun-s-1989-front-page-a7003031.html