The Sun and Kelvin MacKenzie say sorry for Hillsborough slur
But apologies get short shrift in Liverpool amid calls for paper to be closed down
FORMER Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has issued an apology for his 1989 coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy after the true extent of the cover-up was revealed in yesterday’s Hillsborough Independent Panel report. And The Sun itself, which accused Liverpool fans of stealing from the dead and dying, and of attacking emergency services, also begged forgiveness.
MacKenzie was behind the now infamous front page headline ‘The Truth’, which on 19 April 1989 sat above an article pinning blame for the deaths on the behaviour of Liverpool fans. He offered "profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline", but insisted that he was acting in "good faith".
He added: "It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline ‘The Lies’ rather than ‘The Truth’."
His apology was given short shrift by many on Merseyside. Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters in the crush, said it was "too little too late" and called for MacKenzie to be sacked by the BBC, for whom he appears regularly as a political pundit. Others pointed out that MacKenzie had apologised before only to later announce: "I was not sorry then and I'm not sorry now”.
Influential Liverpool FC blogger Jim Boardman tweeted: "MacKenzie hasn't learned anything new today about the disaster and about those lies. He's just learned that he's got no excuses left."
The Media Blog was also sceptical. "It has taken 23 years for Mackenzie to acknowledge the story he published was a pack of lies. Based on this apology it now seems unlikely he will ever admit responsibility."
The Sun also issued a mea culpa today. The paper, which lost tens of thousands in local sales in the aftermath and is still boycotted by many in Liverpool despite previous apologies, ran the front-page headline 'The Real Truth' and carried an editorial which described its own coverage of the tragedy as "without doubt the blackest day in this newspaper's history".
It said: "Today we unreservedly apologise to the Hillsborough victims, their families, Liverpool supporters, the city of Liverpool and all our readers. The role of a newspaper is to uncover injustice. To forensically examine the claims made by those who are in positions of power. In the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy we failed."
The genesis of the Sun story was also revealed in the HIP report. The allegations against the fans were contained in a story from a Sheffield news agency, White's, which had been fed the line as part of an attempt by the authorities to "develop and publicise a version of events that focused on... allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence".
Many on Twitter called for The Sun to be closed down in the wake of yesterday’s report. "Public indignation over phone hacking helped shut down the News of the World. Will Hillsborough do the same for The Sun? We can but hope!" wrote charity fundraiser Martin Cox. ·