Founder board member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation Bill Newman has been sacked from the body – apparently because he used to work for The Sun.
Newman was one appointed to the 12-strong board by the IPSO appointments panel in May.
At the time his appointment drew criticism because he was managing editor of The Sun in 1989 and wrote a letter to Hillsborough families defending the paper's coverage of the disaster.
Newman, who is currently recovering from cancer, was called in the office of IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses after the June meeting of the IPSO board.
"He said we don't want you to be on the board", Newman explained. "We have decided we don't want you to apply for a renewal of your contract.
"And he said it's because of your connection to The Sun. I said that makes no sense at all because you knew I worked at The Sun when you appointed me. I think they have given in to political pressure."
In February, Moses was quizzed by Liverpool MP Steve Rotherham about the appointment of Newman to the IPSO board.
How can anybody have confidence in a board of five people when one of them, William Newman, is the very man who was the ombudsman—I will not even mention the name of the rag—who had numerous letters sent to him about the factual inaccuracies of the reporting in 1989 of Hillsborough and responded not only in a nasty, I think a flippant, way in regard to the concerns that were raised, but said in his defence of the scurrilous reporting that that rag was a truth seeker with a public interest responsibility. This is a man now who is a guardian of the press standards. How can those two things be the same?
Moses responded by saying: "He is there, chosen by the appointments panel headed by Hayden Phillips back in May as someone with knowledge of the tabloid press and he comes with that knowledge. I am hesitant to use the cliché of gamekeeper turned poacher or vice versa but nevertheless he has to play his part of one
Newman said: "I think there should be a tabloid representative on the board and I'm very disa[[pointed because I feel I've got more to contribute."
In 1989, Newman sent a letter to the families of Hillsborough victims.
In it, he said: "We are sorry that, possibly clouded by grief, many have not understood that it is the Sun's duty as a newspaper to publish information, however hurtful and unpalatable it may be at the time.
"On reflection, we accept the way in which the article was displayed could have given cause for offence. For that we apologise. For the substance we do not."
At the time, Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie insisted that a front-page story blaming Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster was true. It later turned out to be based on dishonest testimony from police officers.
Newman was one of four board members appointed for a year. The other three have been re-apointed for three-year terms.
A spokesman for IPSO said: “Bill is serving a one-year term of office that comes to an end in September. When that term ends, IPSO will, in accordance with our Articles of Association (para 22.5.2, a), advertise for a Board member who has had ‘recent senior experience at a publisher operating in the national mass market newspapers sector’.”