MacKenzie sparks more anger from Hillsborough families26/09/2012 - 16:50:13
Hillsborough families have reacted with anger after it emerged that former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has instructed solicitors to demand an “apology and recompense” from South Yorkshire Police.
Mr MacKenzie, writing in The Spectator magazine, said he suffered “personal vilification for decades” as a result of the newspaper’s discredited reporting of the disaster.
The Sun’s front-page story, headlined “The Truth”, which ran four days after the tragedy in April 1989 claimed that Liverpool fans urinated on police officers resuscitating the dying and stole from the dead.
According to extracts published on The Spectator’s website, Mr MacKenzie writes: “Now I know – you know, we all know – that the fans were right.
“But it took 23 years, two inquiries, one inquest and research into 400,000 documents, many of which were kept secret under the 30-year no-publication rule, to discover there was a vast cover-up by South Yorkshire Police about the disaster.
“Where does that leave me?”
The former editor goes on to say that police patrols have been increased around his house and describes a “physical danger” he faces in Liverpool.
“But the people who have got away scot-free are South Yorkshire Police,” he wrote, adding that he is seeking recompense for “the lies their officers told”.
Sue Roberts, secretary of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, said: “The gall of that man to paint himself as a victim and for him to ask anybody for an apology – it beggars belief.
“He was responsible for a story which was part and parcel of a cover-up designed to blame innocent victims for the disaster.
“He is trying to turn the tables, he is trying to excuse his role in the cover-up and it stinks.”
On September 12 a damning report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel said a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the 96 lives lost could have been saved.
The panel found that 164 police statements were altered, 116 of them to remove or change “unfavourable” comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster.
The Sun’s 1989 report caused widespread revulsion in Liverpool and led to an almost-total boycott of the paper on Merseyside that exists to this day.
Mr MacKenzie and current Sun editor Dominic Mohan apologised for the newspaper’s role the day after the panel’s report was published.
In The Spectator article, the former editor goes on to say that the allegations against the fans were also reported in other newspapers, and added: “Liverpool fans didn’t turn on other media, only the Sun.
“That has always puzzled me. Was it picked out because the paper had always backed Thatcher, while the city had always been pro-Labour?”
A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “South Yorkshire Police awaits Mr MacKenzie’s letter with interest.
“It is well known that many media outlets ran similar stories at the time based on the same sources but chose to treat them differently.
“Mr MacKenzie was responsible for the particular headline he chose to run with.”
The 96 Liverpool supporters died in a crush on April 15 1989 at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium where their team were playing Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.
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