THE EDITOR OF Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid The Sun at the time of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster apologised on Wednesday for a running a story 23 years ago that blamed fans for the tragedy.
Kelvin MacKenzie said he had been “totally misled” into running a front-page story with the headline “The Truth”, together with false claims that supporters picked the pockets of victims and urinated on police.
“Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline,” he said in a statement issued hours after an independent panel published a report revealing a huge police cover-up of the tragedy.
“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.
“I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong.”
MacKenzie said he had based the story on a dispatch from a local news agency in Sheffield, the city where Hillsborough stadium is located, that quoted a senior police officer and a lawmaker making the allegations.
“I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster,” he said.
“Too little, too late”
British Prime Minster David Cameron apologised today to the families of the 96 victims for the “double injustice” they suffered due to the cover-up and to official failings on the day of the tragedy.
Families of the victims in Liverpool — where there is still a widespread boycott of The Sun, Britain’s best-selling newspaper — said the apology was not enough.
Trevor Hicks of the Hillsborough Families Support Group said it was “too little, too late” and called MacKenzie “lowlife, clever lowlife, but lowlife”.
MacKenzie edited The Sun from 1981 to 1994.
Media tycoon Murdoch’s British newspaper empire has been in crisis since he was forced to close The Sun’s weekly sister paper, the News of the World, in July 2011 after a scandal over the illegal hacking of mobile phone voicemails.
- (c) AFP 2012