The Liverpool Post & Echo offices have been flooded with letters filled with "genuine vitriol" against former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who last week stood by negative reports about Liverpool fans he published after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
At the time MacKenzie publicly apologised about allegations in The Sun under the notorious headline "The Truth" that drunken Liverpool fans stormed the gates, urinated on the dead and stole their wallets.
- July 3, 2018
- September 28, 2017
- February 10, 2017
But speaking at a business lunch last week in Newcastle he reportedly said: "I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now."
Editor Brian Aitken of The Journal, Newcastle, tipped off Jane Wolstenholme, editor of the Daily Post, which broke the story on Friday on its front page, followed by a strong opinion piece.
The Echo later splashed with a comment piece written by editor Alastair Machray and assistant editor Andrew Edwards under the headline "The truth? This idiot doesn't know the meaning of the word."
Machray told Press Gazette: "We took MacKenzie to task over what we perceive to be first of all, an insult to the Hillsborough victims, and secondly, a bewildering fabrication that defies all credibility. "Our message boards and post bags have been hot with people expressing their views. There is a lot of vitriol and it is genuine vitriol, because MacKenzie's problem is he has no idea how people in Liverpool feel about this.
"Our chief photographer Steve Shakeshaft said he had gone to Anfield stadium (in Liverpool) the day after the disaster and the whole place became a shrine of Liverpudlians laying flowers in memory of those who died. "He said to me, ‘If MacKenzie had come with me when I took those pictures he never, ever would have opened his mouth about Liverpool fans.'"
After MacKenzie published the infamous front page "The Truth", the Echo launched an investigation which went out under the headline "The Real Truth". It concluded that poor crowd control involving supporters being penned in by fences, and the policing were to blame, and the fans were heroes rather than villains, having saved many lives. The investigation was then backed up by an investigation by Lord Justice Taylor.
According to the Post, MacKenzie said he only apologised because his then boss Rupert Murdoch told him to.
Machray added: "Where are the ethics there? He went to a House of Commons select committee and said, ‘I regret Hillsborough, it was a fundamental mistake.' "And now he's telling a bunch of businessmen, ‘I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now'. What can you believe about this?"
Secretary of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign Karen Hill told Press Gazette: "I can't believe anybody with any kind of conscience could come out with such things when they are proven to be lies.
"I don't know what he can gain out of this, apart from hurting a lot of people. He has no moral conscience. I'd like to say there was some hope, but with people like that there is no hope."
MacKenzie did not respond to the Post and Echo or Press Gazette's questions.