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MacKenzie Offers Up Late, Weak Apology for Hillsborough Coverage

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The Sun and Liverpool Football Club have rather notoriously not been the greatest of friends. On April 19th, 1989, the newspaper ran a reprehensible front-page piece on the Hillsborough Disaster, spreading a horrendously distorted version of the facts under the spectacularly ill-judged headline of 'The Truth'. The sub-headlines, which painted the Liverpool fans involved (better known as 'the victims') as barely-human thugs weren't any better.

The editor responsible, Kelvin MacKenzie has now, more than 23 years later and only after evidence was unearthed that he participated in what amounted to a huge cover-up of the basic facts, offered up an apology:

Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline. 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. I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster. As the Prime Minister has made clear these allegations were wholly untrue and were part of a concerted plot by police officers to discredit the supporters thereby shifting the blame for the tragedy from themselves. 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.

In other words, it was wrong but it wasn't my fault; don't shoot the messenger. Charming. At some point, one of the people directly involved in this mess—whether that's the police who helped demonise the victims to preserve their own image or those involved in the pack of lies which masqueraded as coverage—will have the guts to take some measure of responsibility. Apparently, that won't be today.


Graham MacAree is the lead editor of SBNation/soccer and the Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History. This story originally appeared on the SBNation's soccer front page.