Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has played down the political influence of the paper under his editorship – including its infamous splash on the eve of the 1992 General Election: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”.
MacKenzie described the headline as a “gag” and a “bit of bloody fun’when asked about the paper’s political influence at a Leveson Inquiry seminar yesterday, arguing that it was Kinnock who had given the paper the credit for undermining his 1992 election campaign.
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‘I got bugger all out of that,’said MacKenzie. ‘I’m not Lord anything, am I?”
“It’s a gag,’he continued. ‘It’s The Sun. It’s a bit of fun. Nobody is seriously suggesting people are going to be influenced one way or the other, that’s the truth about the matter. And I think these leader columns, if you carried out a piece of research on it, you’d find they were the least read aspect of the paper except, possibly, for the race form. It’s ridiculous.”
‘They took The Sun too seriously,’he added. ‘Four million [copies] a day, it was just an ordinary working person’s paper, it was a bit of fun.”
MacKenzie also came out in support of the Press Complaints Commission, saying: ‘I don’t see anything wrong with the PCC. They were misled , they were lied to. She PCC chairman Baroness Buscombe] asked them a question and these guys just told her a bunch of lies. Perhaps there should be a penalty for doing that.”
He added: ‘The real issue, which is why I suspect there are so many lawyers here – they can hear the crinkle of a £50 note from quite a long distance – what they would really like to see is representation at the PCC for people who complain.
‘The phone-hacking had nothing to do with press and regulation. It was bunch of people, alleged criminals. That’s what that was about.”