I don’t wish to turn our blog into a Kelvin MacKenzie fun-athon, but his decision to instruct his lawyers to demand an apology from South Yorkshire Police – with the implicit threat of further legal action – for the ‘vilification’ he has endured since Hillsborough simply beggars belief.
MacKenzie, lest we forget, has long claimed that his news sense is second-to-none. In his most recent statement, he has claimed that “I was by no means the only man in Fleet St who believed the police’s story.” Putting aside the unintended implication that the women of Fleet Street were less gullible, this fundamentally undermines his own assessment of his ability. Many may have been tempted to believe the police’s version, but they didn’t run the story – they had a better sense of what “sounded right”.
In essence, MacKenzie is demanding recompense for his own credulousness; a desperate admission of inadequacy by any journalist and not a great media recruitment tip for aspiring journalists to follow. But the SYP’s defence is in Mackenzie’s own words. In a 2006 interview with Rob McGibbon for Press Gazette, he refused to apologise for “lies” that had been printed in The Sun under his editorship. “When I published those stories, they were not lies… They were great stories that later turned out to be untrue — and that is different… What am I supposed to feel ashamed about?”
What indeed? A systematically cavalier attitude to the truth leaves little room for sympathy.