Kelvin MacKenzie 'should apologise' for Hillsborough comments

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Media captionFormer Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie (left) admitted he should have handled the Hillsborough story differently

A Liverpool journalist has demanded an apology from ex-editor Kelvin MacKenzie for blaming reporters in the city for the Sun'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.

Mr MacKenzie told BBC Two's The Daily Politics that Liverpool journalists supplied the story.

The Mercury Press agency's editor Chris Johnson said he was consulting lawyers.

He has demanded an apology and retraction from Mr MacKenzie.

'Absolutely insulted'

Describing the coverage, Mr MacKenzie told The Politics Show: "That story came from a Liverpool news agency and Liverpool journalists."

The publication of the story led to a widespread boycott of the newspaper in Liverpool.

An independent inquiry found there was no evidence to support the claims made in the Sun's Hillsborough coverage.

Mr Johnson 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".

"I have no doubt whatsoever that the headline 'THE TRUTH" was created by somebody in the Sun office," said Mr Johnson.

"Where the elements of the story came from I don't know.

'Digging a hole'

"My suspicion is that it came from the Sheffield end. Whether it was Sun staff or possibly other journalists working in association with them, I do not know.

"MacKenzie's digging a deeper hole for himself and he should jump into that hole so we can forget about him.

"I'm consulting my lawyers because I'm basically sick to the teeth of this. I want a retraction and an apology from him."

Image caption The victims of the 1989 disaster in Sheffield were crushed in over-crowded pens

During the interview on The Daily Politics, he told presenter Andrew Neil that he "probably" did have regrets about the story.

He said: "If I could revisit Hillsborough, certainly I'd do it in a different way. I'd do it in the way that the other newspapers did."

The Hillsborough Independent Panel, set up in 2009, is currently examining documents relating to the disaster. It is due to report its findings next year.

The Cabinet Office has promised to release files relating to Margaret Thatcher and the disaster by June 2012 - if they have not already been released by the panel.

Ninety-six fans died and hundreds more were injured after being crushed on the steel-fenced terraces of Sheffield Wednesday's stadium, which was hosting an FA Cup semi-final.

The inquiry into the disaster led by Lord Chief Justice Taylor established the main cause was a failure of police crowd control.

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