Perhaps the biggest media loser from the Hillsborough coronial inquiry decision is the Murdoch clan’s UK tabloid The Sun and its former editor Kelvin MacKenzie. Unlike its initial reports on the tragedy in 1989, and its cover-up for more than a decade after that, there was minimal mention this week in the paper of the The Sun’s rotten role in reporting of the tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989, during which 96 people were killed and dozens badly injured.

The Guardian reported the background here to The Sun’s disgraceful reporting of the tragedy and its aftermath:

“The newspaper, edited at the time by Kelvin MacKenzie, who was personally responsible for the headline The Truth, ran claims from anonymous police officers that, as people were dying at Hillsborough, their fellow supporters stole from them, urinated on police officers and beat up ‘brave cops’ trying to help. The stories were initially defended by the paper as vital reporting of the truth, but it emerged in 2012 that they were sent by a Sheffield news agency, White’s, and run by the Sun almost verbatim.”

The claims in The Sun story that some Liverpool fans had urinated on police and had picked the pockets of the dead were found to be entirely without foundation and the end product of a smear campaign to shift blame onto victims. The reports were run in 1989, but MacKenzie waited until 2012 to apologise. UK media reports at the time said MacKenzie was ordered to apologise by Rupert Murdoch. MacKenzie is back at The Sun as a columnist. The Sun has described the story and front page as the paper’s “most terrible mistake in our history”.

But the main story on the website this week didn’t mention that (only a pointer in the story to the paper’s 2012 report).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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