Earlier today, a jury at Warrington declared that the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives at the Hillsborough stadium disaster on April 15, 1989 were unlawfully killed as a result of "gross negligence" on the part of South Yorkshire police. It brings to an end the extraordinary and tireless 27-year campaign on behalf of the families of the victim which sought to make public the truth of the disaster, and also exonerate their family members who were smeared as drunkenly causing the disaster in a co-ordinated campaign to cover up police failings. One of the instruments used by the police to cover up their failings and to blame the supporters as the Sun newspaper, which led with this disgusting front page in the aftermath of the disaster:
The headline was met with fury on Merseyside, and the city have boycotted the newspaper ever since. The editor who made that call, Kelvin Mackenzie, later apologised, but a Guardian story from 2004 highlights exactly how much input he had over the headline:
According to Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie in their definitive history Stick it Up Your Punter - the Rise and Fall of the Sun, MacKenzie spent an unusual amount of time deliberating over the fateful headline for that day's paper.
According to the book he pondered two headlines, one that was rejected reading "You Scum", and the one that was eventually used - and was to prove the biggest disaster for the paper's reputation and sales: "The Truth".
When sales were so badly affected, Mackenzie rang Kenny Dalglish in a bid to salvage the situation. Here is how the conversation is recalled by Dalglish in his autobiography:
Kelvin MacKenzie, the Sun's editor, even called me up.
"'How can we correct the situation?" he said.
"'You know that big headline - 'The Truth',' I replied. 'All you have to do is put 'We lied' in the same size. Then you might be all right.'
"Mackenzie said: 'I cannot do that.'
"'Well,' I replied, 'I cannot help you then.'
The front page was hugely influential in perpetuating an image of the deceased which was proven as untrue earlier today. Mackenzie offered somewhat of an apology in 1993, blaming misinformation from a Tory MP, an apology the families believed to be insufficient. Mackenzie has never appeared fully contrite, and he was at his cowardly worst when he was doorstepped by Channel 4's Alex Thomson back in 2012. If ever a video captured the true character of a man, it is this:
We await to see what the front page of tomorrow's paper will be. Earlier today, The Sun were distributing free copies of their paper at Manchester airport, which earned the scorn of Jason Mcateer. Mackenzie again apologised today, offering "profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool", once again claiming he was misled, saying that "'I too was totally misled. Twenty-three ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium".
Just a reminder that, in 2006, the oh so apologetic Kelvin MacKenzie was still saying this: pic.twitter.com/CcG2746DRj
— Huw (@Huwburt) April 26, 2016
Just a reminder that Kelvin MacKenzie is STILL employed by @TheSun
— IT'S YOUR DECISION, DANIEL (@MrKenShabby) April 26, 2016