The Sun has apologised for a column written by its former editor Kelvin MacKenzie in which he compared Everton and England footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla.
In the apology printed today (22 April), the newspaper claimed it had been unaware of Barkley’s heritage – his grandfather was born in Nigeria – and that there was "never any slur intended".
In the column, which ran earlier this month, MacKenzie said that Barkley's eyes had given him a "similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo” and he was “certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.”
Illustrating the point, an image of a gorilla ran next to a picture of the midfielder.
"As soon as his background was drawn to our attention, the article was removed from online,” The Sun said in its apology. "We have been contacted by lawyers on behalf of Ross Barkley, who has made a formal complaint about the piece.”
A number of other complaints were made after the article’s publication, prompting it to be removed from the website.
The Sun said MacKenzie on was holiday at the time but the former editor was nonetheless suspended, with the newspaper promising the matter would be “fully investigated” on his return.
Meanwhile, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said McKenzie is also being investigated by the police. A spokesman for Merseyside Police said its investigation was ongoing and officers would be speaking to relevant witnesses.