Kelvin MacKenzie apologises for Hillsborough mistake

Former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie (left) said the story came from Liverpool reporters

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Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has apologised for blaming reporters in Liverpool for the newspaper's Hillsborough coverage.

The paper wrongly claimed that Liverpool fans "picked the pockets" of some of the 96 victims of the 1989 tragedy and urinated on medics.

On Thursday, Mr MacKenzie said Liverpool reporters supplied the story.

But on Friday, he told the BBC he had got it wrong.

He said: "Having just checked with the Sun's news editor at the time, it is clear that the story didn't come from the Liverpool agencies.

"I apologise for getting it wrong but it was 21 years ago."

'Absolutely insulted'

Speaking on BBC Two's Daily Politics on Thursday about the Sun's coverage, Mr MacKenzie said: "That story came from a Liverpool news agency and Liverpool journalists."

Chris Johnson, editor of Mercury Press in Liverpool, later demanded an apology and said he was consulting his lawyers.

He said: "I feel slighted and absolutely insulted, not only for my agency, but for every journalist in Liverpool, and certainly for every freelance journalist in Liverpool."

He said his agency "absolutely categorically 100%" had nothing to do with the story and described Mr MacKenzie's comments as "vile allegations".

When asked to respond to Mr Johnson's comments on Friday morning, Mr MacKenzie initially said he stood by the remarks and that Mr Johnson should check back through his files.

'Salt into wound'

But he later contacted BBC News to say his original remarks had been wrong.

Mr Johnson said: "I remain shocked and disgusted that Kelvin MacKenzie was prepared to trot out a complete lie that defamed my agency and rubbed more salt into the wound in Liverpool - on top of damage he had already caused in 1989."

He said he wanted a direct apology for both the agency and the people of Liverpool.

"As for the matter of damages, I will leave that to the lawyers," he said.

He said the agency had received abusive phone calls and emails, following Mr MacKenzie's comments.

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