The Sun has said it has “the utmost contempt” for false claims it chose to run a front-page story attacking Jeremy Corbyn on the morning after the Manchester bombing.
The paper’s front page carried an interview with ex IRA member Sean O’Callaghan on Tuesday, which hit out at the Labour leader’s alleged solidarity with the Irish terrorist group under the headline: “Blood on his hands.”
Left-leaning news website The Canary attacked The Sun in a piece by editor Kerry-Anne Mendoza yesterday, after politicians agreed to suspend election campaigning in the wake of the tragedy.
She said: “On the night of 22 May, an audience made up mostly of teenage girls was attacked with a bomb as they left an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester’s MEN Arena. The youngest victim to have been identified so far is eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos.
“This was what The Sun chose to put on its front page in the aftermath:
“On a day set aside for mourning, with all political campaigns stood down, The Sun ran this. A naked manipulation of tragic events to serve its own political purposes.”
In fact The Sun’s first edition, which carried the Corbyn story, went to print at 10pm, half-an-hour before the bomb attack at Manchester Arena that killed killed 22 and injured 59, including children.
A second edition was put out shortly after which covered the atrocity.
A Sun spokesperson told Press Gazette: “The Sun is very keen to clear up any confusion about the timings of its editions on Tuesday, 23 May, and has the utmost contempt for those knowingly exploiting this confusion to suit their own prejudices against the newspaper.
“The Sun stands as one with the whole of Manchester and our hearts go out to all affected by this tragedy.”
The Canary story remains live on its website with an update at the foot of the article that reads: “The Sun contacted The Canary to request that we update the piece to reflect that The Sun went to print prior to the concert bombing. The paper issued an updated front page subsequently. We’re happy to do so.”
A petition calling for The Sun to be boycotted in Manchester in protest at the Corbyn front page has received 75,000 supporters on the website Change.org.
A response from The Sun published on the petition website says: “This petition is based on a lie – namely that the Sun first edition front page on Tuesday 23 May and accompanying articles were written after the Manchester bombings.”
The Sun has set up the Together With Manchester appeal to raise money for the families of victims, which has reached more than £158,000. News UK, publisher of the national title, has donated £100,000 to the appeal.
Funds raised will go to the British Red Cross with and the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.
Canary editor Mendoza told Press Gazette in a statement: “We reported the reaction to The Sun’s front page – which was widely criticised in Manchester and beyond – both before and after the attack.
“Following publication we received a request from The Sun to update the story with additional information. We updated the story immediately to include the information requested.
“The Sun did not at any time request that we withdraw the story.”