MacKenzie's Hillsborough - 'The Sun told The Truth'

 

There has been no lack of contrition from The Sun newspaper in the past 18 months as it seeks reconciliation with the people of Liverpool over its infamous reporting of the Hillsborough disaster. The paper published a full-page apology in July 2004 for what it called "the most terrible mistake" in its history and sent the managing editor Graham Dudman into local radio studios on a Boris Johnson-style mission.

That was then. Any hope of a lasting truce was shot to pieces last night as Kelvin MacKenzie, architect of a front page which has made The Sun a pariah in the city for 17 years, was reported as saying he was not sorry for his decision. He had apologised afterwards only because the newspaper's owner, Rupert Murdoch, had ordered him to do so.

Mr MacKenzie apologised publicly when the Press Complaints Commission condemned his paper's descriptions of Liverpool fans urinating on the Hillsborough dead and stealing from their bodies, in an edition headlined "The Truth". But judging by his comments to a business lunch staged by the law firm Mincoffs in Newcastle upon Tyne, he did not mean a word of it. "I was not sorry then and I'm not sorry now," Mr MacKenzie told his audience. "All I did wrong there was [to] tell the truth." Unrepentant barely defines what followed next from Mr MacKenzie. Responding to a seemingly innocuous question about how often he visited Liverpool, he launched into a general attack on Liverpudlians - possibly unaware that a journalist from The Journal newspaper was present.

He said of Hillsborough: "There was a surge of Liverpool fans who had been drinking and that is what caused the disaster. The only thing different we did was put it under the headline 'The Truth'. I went on [BBC Radio 4's] World at One the next day and apologised. I only did that because Rupert Murdoch told me to. I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now because we told the truth."

There have been recent signs that Mr MacKenzie is losing patience with Liverpool. In an interview with The Independent in June he said he had apologised thousands of times for the Hillsborough coverage and that the idea that people should still not be buying the paper was "ridiculous". "If those people are just rejecting [The Sun], I just wouldn't bother at all," he said.

The backlash arrived quickly yesterday. The Liverpool Echo launched a withering attack on Mr MacKenzie while Phil Hammond, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose son died in the tragedy, urged Mr MacKenzie to "come and tell the families this to their faces".

Mackenzie's greatest front pages

4 May 1982. Gotcha!

The headline about the sinking of the Belgrano remains Mr MacKenzie's personal favourite.

13 March 1986. Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster

The story had it that Starr put Supersonic the hamster into a sandwich.

19 April 1989. The Truth

Alleged that "some fans picked pockets of victims" and "some fans urinated on the brave cops".

9 April 1992

Page 3 of this general election issue featured an overweight woman headlined: "Here's How Page 3 Will Look Under Kinnock!"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before