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Kelvin Calder MacKenzie (born 22 October 1946, South London) is an English media executive and former newspaper editor. He is best remembered for being editor of The Sun newspaper between 1981 and 1994, an era in which the paper was firmly established as Britain's best selling tabloid. His period as Sun editor was marked by high controversy - MacKenzie is remembered as the man responsible for the paper's "Gotcha" headline after the sinking of the Argentinianmarker light cruiser General Belgrano during the Falklands War, as well as its notorious coverage of the Hillsborough disaster which was dismissed as "entirely inaccurate" by both the Press Council and the official government inquiry into the tragedy. Throughout much of his career, MacKenzie has been an associate of international media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Biography

MacKenzie was educated at Alleyn's Schoolmarker. His parents were Ian and Mary Mackenzie both journalists on The South London Observer. When their paper was taken over by The South London Press Mary became Press Chief for the then Tory leader of the Greater London Council, Sir Horace Cutler but little else is known about his background or early journalistic career. His father died in April 2004 at the age of 84. Kelvin MacKenzie left school with one O-level, in English literature. He joined the South East London Mercury at 17, and worked on local and then national newspapers, such as the Daily Express for the next ten years.

MacKenzie has stated that he discovered early on in his career that he had little writing ability and that his talents lay in making up headlines and laying out pages.By 1978, at the age of just 32, he was Managing Editor of the New York Post, two years after it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch, who already owned The Sun. Murdoch appointed him Sun editor in 1981 and is said to have described MacKenzie as his all-time "favourite editor".

MacKenzie is a right-wing Conservative and a committed Thatcherite. He was, and still is, a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher personally and argues that she is Britain's greatest post-war Prime Minister. In 2003, he presented a documentary "Kelvin saves the Tories" in which he proposed a low-tax, anti-BBC, anti-asylum seeker and cautiously pro-capital punishment manifesto for the party., yet in February 2008, in a Sun newspaper article, MacKenzie claimed that he is now against the return of the death penalty.

Outlook

While it was in 1978 that The Sun initially overtook the Daily Mirror in terms of circulation, it was during MacKenzie's spell as editor that The Sun firmly established itself as the biggest selling newspaper in Britain. It was also under MacKenzie that the newspaper became renowned for what is felt by many commentators to be its populist and the sensationalist approach to journalism, although others argue that this approach had already been established to a lesser extent under previous editors during the 1970s and strongly mirrored the style Rupert Murdoch had already adopted for some of his Australian newspapers prior to his purchase of the Sun (then called the Daily Herald) in the late 1960s.

MacKenzie was not responsible for ending the Sun's traditional left-wing political stance and support for the British Labour Party - the paper's switch to the right and support for Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives at the 1979 general election occurred under the previous editor Larry Lamb shortly before MacKenzie took over, at the behest of Rupert Murdoch (this being despite Murdoch's earlier assurances to the Sun's previous owners that he would continue to support the trade union movement and the Labour Party if they agreed to sell him the newspaper).

Neither was MacKenzie responsible for the introduction of the controversial page 3 girls in the Sun - this had occurred shortly after Murdoch had bought the paper over ten years before MacKenzie was appointed editor.

It was MacKenzie, however, who cemented the paper's image as a right-wing tabloid, not only greatly increasing its circulation and dramatically heightening its profile, but also making it infamous in the eyes of the British public for its scathing attacks on left-wing political figures and movements, its cheeky humour (the best examples of which were often its headlines, many thought up by MacKenzie), and its sensationalist front-page celebrity "exposes", which frequently turned out to be misleading or outright false, with MacKenzie presiding over many of the biggest controversies in the paper's history. Critics accused the paper of exaggerating or even inventing news stories under MacKenzie (on some occasions this was proven to be the case ) and of severely dumbing down public discourse. The paper was frequently accused (often but not exclusively by left-wing and liberal critics) of promoting jingoism, racism, homophobia, and intolerance.

By the mid-1980s, British comedians would frequently bring up the subject of the stereotypical Sun reader, feeling it was guaranteed to get laughs from any audience, Jasper Carrott was a notable exponent of this. Like most stereotypes, the image of the "average Sun reader" may be somewhat unfair and misleading to at least some extent - polls have consistently shown that a majority of Sun readers claim not to take what they read in the paper seriously, and approximately the same number of Sun readers voted Labour in 1992 as voted Conservative - but the concept of the Sun reader stereotype is perhaps just as prevalent in British culture and society as it was when it first emerged under MacKenzie.

However, MacKenzie is quoted as saying in the early 1980s (on the subject of how he perceived his target audience and how he approached journalism):

MacKenzie has also stated, perhaps only half-seriously, that he feels that his own spell as editor of The Sun had a "positively downhill impact on journalism". Numerous observers, such as ex-Sun deputy editor Roy Greenslade, left-wing journalist John Pilger, and playwright Dennis Potter, have commented more seriously on the alleged 'Murdoch effect' - and more specifically about the effect of the Sun during the MacKenzie era, supposedly by far the most significant example of this effect - on British journalism, media, political climate, and intellectual culture, as well as on British culture and society at large. These commentators argued that Murdoch's media enterprise, and in particular MacKenzie's Sun, not only helped to keep Thatcher in power and enable the successful continuation of the "Thatcher revolution" while successfully smearing her left-wing opponents, but also had such a profound effect on all areas of the British media as to be perhaps the most significant contributor to the perceived "dumbing-down" of British news, popular entertainment, and culture across the board.

Murdoch has responded to some of these arguments by saying his critics are "snobs" who want to "impose their tastes on everyone else", while MacKenzie claims the same critics are people who, if they ever had a "popular idea", would have to "go and lie down in a dark room for half an hour". Both have pointed to the huge commercial success of the Sun in the 1980s and its establishment as Britain's top-selling newspaper, claiming that they are "giving the public what they want". This conclusion is heavily disputed by the critics, with Pilger pointing out that a late-1970s edition of the Daily Mirror which replaced the usual celebrity and domestic political news items with an entire issue devoted to his own front-line reporting of the genocide in Pol Pot's Cambodiamarker not only outsold the Sun on the day it was issued but became the only edition of the Daily Mirror to ever sell every single copy issued throughout the country, something never achieved by the Sun.

MacKenzie was widely criticised for his perceived cruelty to both the targets of his (sometimes false) newspaper allegations, his choice of targets frequently being not only left-wing politicians and celebrities but even previously unknown ordinary members of the public, and also his alleged cruelty to his own staff and colleagues, to which MacKenzie has since responded:

Notorious headlines

Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster, The Sun, 13 March 1986
MacKenzie was responsible for the "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster" front-page headline, probably the most famous in The Sun's history. The claims made in the accompanying article, that the comedian Freddie Starr had placed his girlfriend's hamster on a sandwich and proceeded to eat it, not surprisingly turned out to be entirely untrue and an invention of the publicist Max Clifford. The headline is remembered mainly for its humour value and is also often held up as the prime example of the Sun's supposedly celebrity obsessed, sensationalist and often inaccurate journalism.

More controversially, MacKenzie was responsible for the 4 May "Gotcha" front-page headline, which reported the controversial sinking of the Argentinianmarker battleship General Belgrano by a British submarine during the Falklands War. MacKenzie was heavily condemned by some commentators who felt he was glorifying slaughter and the headline caused a storm of controversy and protest, although MacKenzie had actually changed the front-page of later editions to "Did 1,200 Argies drown?" after it was established that there had been a large number of Argentine casualties. MacKenzie later defended his "Gotcha" headline, saying:

MacKenzie's coverage of the Falklands War was criticised by many commentators such as The Guardian journalist and ex-Daily Mirror editor Roy Greenslade for being jingoistic and a glorification of war (Greenslade was working with MacKenzie on The Sun at the time). On one occasion during the conflict, The Sun published a photograph of a missile which had a large Sun logo printed on its side. The paper claimed they had "sponsored" the missile and that it would shortly be used to "kill Argies". The photograph also featured a topless teenage page 3 girl caressing the missile, which was perceived to be phallic imagery and resulted in criticism that The Sun was attempting to use sex to promote and glorify war.

While The Sun was heavily criticised and even mocked for its coverage of the war in The Daily Mirror and The Guardian, The Sun responded by accusing these newspapers of treason. The satirical magazine Private Eyemarker mocked and lampooned what they regarded as the paper's jingoistic coverage, most notably with the mock-Sun headline "KILL AN ARGIE, WIN A METRO!", to which MacKenzie is said to have jokingly responded, "Why didn't I think of that?".

Despite his self-professed pride at having printed the "Gotcha" headline, Roy Greenslade claims that MacKenzie had only chosen the headline prior to it becoming clear that there had been a large number of Argentine casualties resulting from the sinking of the Belgrano and that even he later became concerned that the headline may be seen as insensitive and distasteful.

Greenslade states that MacKenzie insisted on changing the headline to "Did 1,200 Argies Die?" for later editions because of these concerns, and that he did so against the wishes of Rupert Murdoch, who allegedly demanded that the "Gotcha" headline remain for later editions despite the large number of casualties and later said of the headline, "I rather liked it". This is reportedly the only occasion that MacKenzie ever disobeyed a specific order from Murdoch.

The Sun's politics

MacKenzie's Sun strongly supported the Conservative Party in all of the General Elections which were held during his time as editor, and all her policies. The newspaper became well known for its scathing attacks on the Labour Party and its leaders. Most memorably, on the day of the 1992 election MacKenzie used the front-page headline "If Kinnock Wins Today, Will The Last Person To Leave Britain Please Turn Out The Lights", accompanied by a picture of Kinnock's head superimposed over a lightbulb. The following day, after the Conservatives confounded the polls and won a narrow majority, The Sun claimed that they had won the election for the Tories by proclaiming "It Woz The Sun Wot Won It!" on their front page. Neil Kinnock stated that he believed that the main reason that Labour had lost the election was the campaign waged against the party and against him personally by right-wing, Conservative supporting newspapers, in particular The Sun, although a subsequent investigation by the Labour Party's research department questioned this conclusion, arguing that Sun readers were divided roughly 50-50 between voting Conservative and Labour, and that there were not enough Conservative-voting Sun readers in crucial seats to have swung the election.

The newspaper subsequently denied any responsibility for the Conservative victory when it came in for criticism, despite its early headlines. Nonetheless, Tony Blair would later make winning over Rupert Murdoch and The Sun newspaper a major priority before the 1997 General Election, by which time MacKenzie was no longer editor. However, many people have argued that the Sun knew that the Conservatives had no chance of winning the 1997 General Election, and had it still urged it's readers to vote Conservative, it would afterwards be seen as having backed a loser.

Although the coverage of the 1992 election remains the best remembered, there were many other vitriolic personal attacks on Labour leaders by MacKenzie's Sun during election campaigns, such as in 1983 when MacKenzie ran a front page featuring an unflattering photograph of Michael Foot alongside the headline "Do You Really Want This Old Fool To Run Britain?", yet, a year later, the paper was staunch in its support for the re-election of Ronald Reagan as president in the USA, who was two years older than Foot.

In 1987 when MacKenzie ran an extraordinary mock-editorial entitled "Why I'm Backing Kinnock, by Joseph Stalin.

MacKenzie's Sun also made frequent scathing attacks on what the paper called the "loony left" element within the Labour Party and on institutions supposedly controlled by it, such as the left-wing Greater London Council and Liverpool City Council.

MacKenzie also ran a story extensively quoting a respected American psychiatrist claiming that British left-wing politician Tony Benn was "insane", with the psychiatrist discussing various aspects of Benn's supposed pathology.. The story was discredited when the psychiatrist in question publicly denounced the article and described the false quotes attributed to him as "absurd", The Sun having apparently fabricated the entire piece.. Benn won the by-election.

MacKenzie's coverage of the British miners' strike, 1984-1985 supported the police and the Thatcher government against the striking NUM miners. The paper was accused of making misleading or even outright false claims about the miners, their unions and Arthur Scargill. MacKenzie at one point prepared a front page with the headline "Mine Führer" and a photograph of Scargill with his arm in the air, a pose which made him look as though he was giving a Nazi salute. The print workers at The Sun, regarding it as an attempt at a cheap smear, refused to print it.

MacKenzie's Sun supported the introduction of the controversial and highly unpopular Poll Tax by Margaret Thatcher and consistently stuck by Thatcher and her government on the issue despite widespread opposition (some of it from Conservative MP's) which culminated in huge public protests, riots and eventually mass non-payment, all of which is seen as having contributed to Thatcher's own downfall before the tax was quickly repealed by her successor John Major. The Sun labelled those attending public protests opposing the tax as "thugs".. It launched a fierce personal attack on Michael Heseltine, Michael Mates and Keith Hampson during the 1990 leadership election contest, of which Thatcher was ousted from office. Also the Sun supported the 1986 bombing of Libyamarker by the USA, which was launched from British bases. Several civilians were killed during the bombing.

Invented stories

In January 1987, MacKenzie published a front-page story alleging that pop singer Elton John had had sex with underage rentboys. These claims were without any foundation and entirely false. Shortly after, MacKenzie published further allegations that the singer had had the voiceboxes of his guard dogs removed because their barking kept him awake at night. Not only were these additional claims also completely untrue, but MacKenzie confirmed their inaccuracy shortly after publication by sending a reporter to the singer's house, who quickly discovered that all of his guard dogs were quite capable of barking (MacKenzie later admitted that in retrospect he found it difficult to understand why he had believed, never mind published, the claims about the guard dogs which he later realised were self-evidently absurd). Elton John sued The Sun for libel over both these claims and was later awarded £1,000,000 in damages.MacKenzie later said of Elton John

There were many other controversies during MacKenzie's time in charge of The Sun. MacKenzie at one point ran a story about a previously unknown member of the public who had just undergone a heart transplant operation, the story denouncing the man as a "love rat", Sun journalists having been told that he had left his wife fifteen years earlier. Aside from criticism about the story's highly questionable news value, the newspaper was furiously condemned as the story was run when the man's recovery was still in the balance.

Indeed, many commentators accused MacKenzie and his team of simply inventing many of the stories that appeared in the newspaper, as well as interviews, and in some instances this was proven to be the case, most notably when an entirely fabricated interview with the disfigured Falklands war hero Simon Weston was published, which was criticised for "inviting readers to feel revulsion at his disfigurement". Some other notable controversies that occurred under MacKenzie include a headline describing Australian Aborigines as "The Abo's: Brutal and Treacherous" (which was condemned as "inaccurate" and "unacceptably racist" by the Press Council) and MacKenzie's sending of photographers to break into a psychiatric hospital to ask actor Jeremy Brett, who was a patient in the hospital at the time and who was suffering from manic depression and dying of cardiomyopathy, whether he was "dying of AIDS". The newspaper apparently suspected Brett of being a homosexual and that his mystery illness might be AIDS, which it wasn't.

These incidents caused The Sun to become a laughing stock in some quarters and to be heavily condemned in others, but the newspaper's profile increased dramatically during MacKenzie's time as editor although sales figures dipped. On the subject of the sensationalist and sometimes inaccurate reporting which appeared in The Sun during his time as editor, MacKenzie has said:

One could also describe the offensive Hillsborough coverage described below as another invented story as it was entirely baseless and was proved later to be false.

Coverage of the Hillsborough disaster

In April 1989, the single biggest controversy during MacKenzie's reign occurred, later described in a Sun editorial in 2004 as "the most terrible mistake in our history", during the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, a deadly crush which occurred during an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough football stadiummarker in Sheffieldmarker claiming the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

The Sun printed the front-page headline "The Truth", with three sub-headings, "Some Fans Picked Pockets of Victims", "Some Fans Urinated on the Brave Cops" and "Some Fans Beat Up PC Giving Kiss Of Life". The accompanying article claimed that ticketless and drunken Liverpool F.C. fans were responsible for the disaster, having supposedly tried to fight their way into the stadium by rushing the turnstiles and attacking policemen outside the ground. Further specific allegations were made that during the disaster itself Liverpool fans inside the stadium had stolen wallets and other items from the dead, had urinated over policemen and the bodies of dead fans, that they had beaten policemen, ambulance men and rescue workers attempting to save the lives of other fans and had sexually abused the body of a dead girl after shouting "throw her up and we'll fuck her" to policemen moving her body.

The sources for these allegations were stated to be anonymous high-ranking police officers from Sheffield Police and Irvine Patnick, a Conservative MP from Sheffieldmarker who wasn't actually present at the match. (On 11 January 2007 on BBC TV's Question Time, MacKenzie additionally claimed that one of his sources was a Liverpool news agency.) The article was accompanied by graphic photographs showing Liverpool fans, including young children, choking and suffocating as they were being crushed against the perimeter fences surrounding the terraces - this was widely condemned as inappropriate.

The coverage and the allegations caused intense uproar on Merseyside (where The Sun was boycotted, with public burnings of the paper organised and many newsagents refusing to stock it at all) and widespread criticism and condemnation from many commentators. The Press Council described the allegations unequivocally as "lies". The official government enquiry into the disaster dismissed the allegation that drunken Liverpool fans had been responsible for the disaster and concluded that inadequate crowd control and errors by the police had been the primary cause of the tragedy.

Prior to the publication of The Sun's initial article, a number of local newspapers in Yorkshiremarker published very similar allegations (such as The Sheffield Star and The Yorkshire Post). It has since emerged that many British national newspaper editors were offered the same story from the same sources the day before The Sun article was published but while many national newspapers printed allegations about Liverpool fans being responsible for the disaster, only MacKenzie and his counterpart at Daily Star were prepared to print the more outlandish allegations about theft and abuse of dead bodies, with many editors feeling that the claims sounded dubious. Furthermore, the other national papers which printed coverage claiming Liverpool fans to be responsible for the disaster, including The Daily Star, withdrew their allegations and apologised the day after publication, whereas The Sun did not.

In their book about the history of the Sun, Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie wrote:

Murdoch for his part ordered MacKenzie to appear on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend in the aftermath of the controversy to apologise. MacKenzie was quoted on the programme as saying
 In 1993 he told a House of Commons National Heritage Select Committee that
 In 1996, MacKenzie again discussed the matter on Radio 4 but this time claimed:


Sales of The Sun on Merseyside have never recovered, costing News International several million pounds a year, despite a belated full page apology by the newspaper in 2004. Many newsagents still refuse to stock it even today.

After leaving The Sun

In January 1994 MacKenzie moved to BSkyB, another of Murdoch's News Corporation assets. MacKenzie left within a few months.

In 1995 MacKenzie joined Mirror Group Newspapers and was appointed joint boss of their fledgling L!VE TV British cable television channel. The station had previously been headed by Janet Street-Porter, who had set out to establish L!VE TV as an alternative, youth-orientated channel. She clashed with MacKenzie over program content and soon left, leaving him in sole charge.

He later said that he would agree to indulge in a "night of passion" with Janet Street-Porter and that he would be "willing", but only if she paid him £4.7m, a figure he had arrived at after calculating how much money he would lose from "loss of reputation, the negative impact on future earnings etc."

MacKenzie took a radically different approach and was criticised for producing severely downmarket programming. MacKenzie introduced features such as nightly editions of 'Topless Darts' (featuring topless women playing darts on a beach), 'The Weather in Norwegian' (with a young, typically blonde and bikini-clad Scandinavian woman presenting weather forecasts in both English and Norwegian), other weather forecasts featuring dwarfs bouncing on trampolines and stock exchange reports presented by Tiffany, a young female presenter who would strip naked as she read out the latest share prices. A large amount of airtime was given over to tarot card readers and astrologers. L!VE TV's best known character was the News Bunny, a man dressed as a giant rabbit who popped up during news broadcasts to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the various news stories to indicate whether or not he found them interesting or exciting.

The station had a budget of only £2000 an hour and attracted very little in the way of an audience, never being watched by more than an average of 200,000 viewers but the channel was well known because of the controversy and criticism surrounding its programming, which led to the station being labelled "Tabloid TV" and even "Sun TV" (in reference to the newspaper, some critics accusing MacKenzie of doing nothing more than creating a television version of his old newspaper). MacKenzie has been accused of taking a "shamelessly tacky approach". He eventually left the station in 1997. He has later said of L!VE TV:
 The station failed and had to close down.


In November 1998 MacKenzie headed a consortium (TalkCo Holdings) which purchased Talk Radio from CLT for £24.7 million. One of the financial backers was News International, News Corporation's main UK subsidiary. In 1999 TalkCo was renamed The Wireless Group and in January 2000 Talk Radio was rebranded as TalkSport. The Wireless Group acquired The Radio Partnership in 1999, gaining control of its nine local commercial stations. In May 2005, it was announced that the Northern Ireland media company, UTV plc, had made an agreed offer to buy the company, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. In June 2005 the takeover proceeded, with MacKenzie being replaced by UTV executive Scott Taunton. The station lost listeners during Mackenzie's tenure.

In September 2005 MacKenzie took over Highbury House Communications, a magazine publishing company based in Bournemouthmarker and Orpingtonmarker. HHC held a number of titles mainly in the Leisure and Computing (Games) market with a 'ladette' title sitting uncomfortably in their portfolio. HHC was already suffering from massive debts when MacKenzie took the reins and despite efforts on his part to broker a life-line to save the ailing company, he had inherited a poisoned legacy. This venture also failed Highbury didn't survive, and closed its doors in December 2005.

MacKenzie then spent a year as chairman of one of the UK's largest marketing and communications groups, Media Square plc.Things did not work out and he left in March 2007.

MacKenzie has appeared on the BBC's Grumpy Old Men TV series, discussing his pet hates. In one edition he accused the BBC of having a left-wing bias and of producing out-dated and poor quality programmes and news. MacKenzie said that the reason for this was that that BBC Television Centremarker is populated almost exclusively by "left-wing turds".

Despite the aforementioned criticism of the corporation, in March 2006 MacKenzie joined BBC Radio Five Live as a presenter. He made his debut on the station over the summer, presenting a series of programmes telling the story of various scandals which have occurred at FIFA World Cup tournaments over the years. He then presented a retrospective look at the year gone by on Christmas Day.

In May 2006 MacKenzie returned to The Sun, where he again courted controversy, being accused using one of his columns to launch an attack on the people of Scotland (see below). . On the subject of the columns themselves, he has said "I want to get the Lonsdale Belt for vile and be personally rude to as many people as possible."

Political ambitions

In May 2008, MacKenzie stood for election as a local councillor in Elmbridgemarker. He lost the election, gaining 227 votes whereas the Conservative seat holder Glenn Dearlove won 679.

After Conservative Member of Parliament David Davis announced that he would resign his seat in the House of Commonsmarker in order to fight a by-election as a protest against the Government's plans for 42-day detention without charge for terrorist suspects, MacKenzie announced that he was likely to contest the election on a pro-42-day detention platform, stating: "I have been associated with The Sun for 30 years. The Sun is very, very hostile to David Davis because of his 28 day stance and The Sun has always been very up for 42 days and perhaps even 420 days".

Off camera, before a BBC interview, MacKenzie referred to Hull, which the Haltemprice and Howden constituency borders, as "an absolute shocker." Asked to clarify those comments, he said it was "a joke" and that he has "never actually been to Hull".

MacKenzie subsequently decided not to run for the Haltemprice and Howden seat, stating: "The clincher for me was the money. Clearly the Sun couldn't put up the cash – so I was going to have to rustle up a maximum of £100,000 to conduct my campaign".

Hillsborough controversy reignited

During an after-dinner speech to Mincoffs Solicitors LLP (a Newcastle-based law firm) on 30 November 2006, MacKenzie is reported to have said of his coverage of the Hillsborough disaster:
 MacKenzie went on to compare Merseysiders with animal rights activists. Ironically, MacKenzie is also said to have remarked,


The remarks were met with widespread incredulity and condemnation, particularly on Merseyside, where Liverpool F.C., the local Liverpool Echo and numerous local MPs condemned MacKenzie, with Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle arguing that the quotes confirmed that MacKenzie was "never fit to edit a national newspaper". The Liverpool Echo called for The Sun to sack MacKenzie as a columnist. The Sun issued a statement saying that they had "already apologised for what happened and we stand by that apology." However despite reports of consternation at The Sun over MacKenzie's statements, the newspaper chose to retain him as a columnist. MacKenzie refused to comment publicly on the controversy and pulled out of a scheduled appearance on BBC TV's Question Time later that week.

Earlier that autumn MacKenzie had already provoked controversy in Liverpool by stating in a Press Gazette interview that he had never knowingly printed any lies in The Sun and that even stories which later turned out to be untrue were still "good stories". In relation to the publishing of false or misleading reports in The Sun, MacKenzie asked "What am I supposed to feel ashamed about?" MacKenzie was not specifically referring to the coverage of the Hillsborough disaster and made no mention of the tragedy during the interview, but the Liverpool Echo published a piece reporting MacKenzie's statements and criticising the apparent lack of shame or regret over the Hillsborough coverage implied by them (and the fact that MacKenzie may still regard the misleading coverage as a "good story").

Although there was actually little reaction to the quotes on Merseyside at the time, they did draw comment from Phil Hammond, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, who said: "I can't believe that even after all these years, there is no remorse or regret for the hurt he caused". It was still thought at this point however that, although MacKenzie appeared not to regret the coverage, he no longer regarded it as having any factual basis after his apparent admissions in the past that the allegations made were lies fed to him by police officers and a Tory MP.

On 6 January 2007 a protest took place at Anfieldmarker Stadium, the home of Liverpool F.C., during the FA Cup Third Round match against Arsenal F.C.. The protest was organised by fan group Reclaim The Kop, with the support of Liverpool F.C., and was directed towards MacKenzie personally and his continuing allegations about Hillsborough, and also towards the BBC (who were present at the stadium, broadcasting the game live on TV) for employing MacKenzie as a radio presenter and paying him with TV licence payers' (and therefore public) money. Almost 12,000 people in the Kop stand held up a mosaic which spelled out the words 'The Truth' whilst Liverpool supporters chanted "Justice for the 96" for six minutes, signifying the length of time that the Hillsborough game played on for before being abandoned. MacKenzie did not respond to the protest publicly.

On 11 January 2007 MacKenzie appeared on BBC TV's Question Time programme, held in his home county of Kent. Towards the end of the program, MacKenzie was asked by presenter David Dimbleby about The Sun's claims about the Hillsborough disaster. MacKenzie stated that he stands by his allegation that ticketless fans were the cause of the disaster but that he does not know whether the other allegations about theft from the dead and fans urinating over victims and policemen were true. Clare Short MP suggested MacKenzie should apologise to the bereaved families and survivors who say that his claims cause them distress and hurt but he refused, claiming that it would make no difference anyway due to the bad blood between himself and Liverpool F.C. MacKenzie suggested that those who feel angry at him should instead direct their anger towards "someone who caused the disaster". MacKenzie was heckled by some members of the audience while Short was applauded when she repeated her suggestion that he should retract his claims and apologise, but MacKenzie remained adamant that he had nothing to apologise for.

In February 2007, Independent journalist Matthew Norman claimed that MacKenzie is considering issuing a public apology for his coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, although he is "still unsure" as to whether to do so. His former colleague at The Sun Roy Greenslade has suggested that the real reason why MacKenzie may be so hesitant to apologise and admit the inaccuracy of the coverage may be his "anti-Scousemarker" bias, which Greenslade suspects makes it difficult for MacKenzie to "bring himself to say sorry to the city's people". In the 80's, MacKenzie's Sun (along with other Murdoch-owned newspapers) published a number of attacks on the city of Liverpoolmarker, criticising the city's Trotskyist Militant-led council and its strong opposition to the Thatcher government, and the supposed radical left-wing tendencies of the city's inhabitants, as well as promoting many negative stereotypes of Liverpudlians. The Sun at one point under MacKenzie would regularly refer to the city as the 'Socialist Republic of Liverpool'.

Attacks on Scotland

MacKenzie has courted further controversy recently by making a series of attacks on the people of Scotlandmarker despite the fact that he has some Scottish ancestry - his grandfather was from Stirlingmarker. In addition, his three names are all traditionally Scottish. Kelvin for example, is the name of one of the riversmarker that runs through Glasgowmarker, and his brother is called Bruce, which is the name of one of the Scottish royal families.

In July 2006, MacKenzie wrote a column for the Sun newspaper referring to Scots as 'Tartan Tosspots' and apparently rejoicing in the fact that Scotland has a lower life expectancy than the rest of the United Kingdommarker. MacKenzie's column provoked a storm of protest, and was heavily condemned by numerous commentators including Scottish MPs and MSPs.

Question Time

On 11 October 2007, MacKenzie appeared on the BBC's Question Time TV programme and launched another attack on Scotland. During a debate about tax, MacKenzie claimed that: The comments came as part of an attack on Prime Minister Gordon Brown whom MacKenzie said could not be trusted to manage the British economy because he was "a Scot" and a "socialist", and insisting that this was relevant to the debate. Fellow panellist Chuka Umunna from the think tank Compass called his comments "absolutely disgraceful", and booing and jeering were heard from the Cheltenhammarker studio audience. The BBC received 350 complaints and MacKenzie's comments drew widespread criticism - notably from the high-profile Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne who responded on BBC Radio 5 Live:

In a number of further interviews, MacKenzie went on to say that without England's financial support Scotland would most probably be a third world country.

Personal life

MacKenzie married Jacqueline Holland in 1968 in Camberwellmarker. They have two sons (born 1972 and 1974) and a daughter (born 1969). His elder son and his daughter (who left in January 1999) worked at Talk Radio. In 2006 they divorced on the grounds of adultery on the part of MacKenzie. On 25 July 2008, he married Sarah McLean in Sunningdalemarker, Berkshire. She works for McGraw-Hill. In the late 1990s, MacKenzie was in the news when he was caught by the The Mail on Sunday holidaying in what the paper described as a "love nest" in Barbadosmarker with News International secretary Joanna Duckworth. He lives in Weybridgemarker.

External links



Notes

  1. "Your Favourite Prime Minister", The Daily Politics official BBC website, 13 June 2007. Features a video of MacKenzie championing Margaret Thatcher as Britain's greatest post-war Prime Minister. Retrieved on 14 October 2007.
  2. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20030609/ai_n12699128
  3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/falklands/story/0,,657850,00.html
  4. "1992: Major confounds the polls", BBC News Election 2001. The Sun front page is reproduced. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  5. Sun still shines for Blair", BBC News, 8 March 2001. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  6. "1987: Three on the trot for Thatcher", BBC News Vote 2001. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  7. "Benn on the couch", The Sun, 1 March 1984. Benn was standing in the Chesterfield byelection which was held on the day the article appeared.
  8. Greg Philo, War and Peace News (Open University Press, 1985), p. 138.
  9. "A History of The Scum (S*n 'newspaper')", Kirby Times News, 2004. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  10. Kelvin McKenzie "Boss applies blowtorch over rentboys", story from The Guardian as reproduced in the Sydney Morning Herald,27 April 2002. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  11. David McKie "The very best of Holmes", The Guardian, 9 June 2005. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  12. Hillsborough Football Disaster - The Immediate Aftermath - The Media reaction, Contrast website. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  13. Chris Tryhorn "MacKenzie quits marketing group", The Guardian, 29 March 2007. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  14. "Kelvin MacKenzie makes his debut on Five Live", BBC press release, 30 March 2006. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  15. Roy Greenslade "MacKenzie 'no lies' claim angers Merseyside", blog on The Guardian website, [no date]. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  16. "Matthew Norman's Media Diary", The Independent, 26 February 2007. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  17. Roy Greenslade "Vote, vote, vote for Kelvin MacKenzie", blog on The Guardian website, 28 February 2007. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
  18. "Axe Grinder 31.03.06", Press Gazette (online edition), 30 March 2006. Retrieved on 4 May 2007.



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