The former editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie is to return to the tabloid newspaper as a columnist, a decision that has been criticised and reignited debate over his involvement in its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster.
MacKenzie has long been a controversial figure following his time at the paper, not least after it ran ‘The Truth’ front page story following the 1989 Hillsbourough disaster where the newspaper, among other things, claimed that fans had pick pocketed those who died during the tragedy.
The newspaper has since admitted that it was wrong to print the accusations, but that has not quelled hostility from citizens of Liverpool who were offended by the accusations and have boycotted the red top title ever since.
— The Sun (@TheSunNewspaper) December 31, 2014
Writing in his column for the Guardian, media commentator Roy Greenslade described the hiring as “strange” after MacKenzie’s successors have attempted to distance the title from the story for so many years. “Given the determination of the current editor, David Dinsmore, to give the Sun a less acerbic image, the hiring of MacKenzie makes no sense. It flies in the face of all that he has been seeking to achieve,” stated Greenslade. “I’m sure this wasn’t his idea. It smacks of a demand from News UK’s ultimate boss, Rupert Murdoch, who has always had a soft spot for MacKenzie, the man he once affectionately called ‘my little Hitler. “Dinsmore will be the one to suffer. It might sound like fun to welcome back ‘the legendary Kelvin MacKenzie’ by claiming that he will be ‘sticking up for the man and woman in the street and sticking it to anyone who takes them for granted.’” Meanwhile, Daily Mirror’s deputy sports editor, Ed Malyon tweeted: “On the day Hillsborough campaigners appear on New Years Honours list, The Sun announce Kelvin MacKenzie's return”
On the day Hillsborough campaigners appear on New Years Honours list, The Sun announce Kelvin MacKenzie's return — Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) December 31, 2014
Many others criticised the appointment on Twitter as well:
Prick Kelvin MacKenzie returns to the Sun despite Hillsborough. Rupert Murdoch called him “my little Hitler.” http://t.co/ou7RrZXTy4”#JFT96 — LFC Mullins (@colinmullins) January 1, 2015
The same day Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks get a CBE's the #SCUM rehire Kelvin Mackenzie, im never annoyed but with this im am #JFT96 — James Burns (@seacatking) December 31, 2014
MacKenzie’s column will run every Monday and Thursday from 12 January.
In 2012, Channel 4's chief correspondent, Alex Thomson doorstepped MacKenzie to ask him about the coverage of the Hillsborough disaster.