The truth, the real truth, is finally out. After 23 years, the Sun yesterday issued a “profound apology” for their reports following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. But how much does a “sorry” from the Sun really mean?
The report in 1989, laid out under the now infamous headline “The Truth”, alleged that many involved in the crush, which left 96 dead and hundreds injured, had assaulted police, urinated on them and pickpocketed the victims. This was all false.
The editor at the time, Kelvin McKenzie, dismissed the worries of his staff, who said there was no truth behind the allegations, and published the piece.
The reaction was furious. Copies of the paper were burnt and torn up and thousands of complaints were sent in. McKenzie refused to explain himself and left the reputation of the Sun, quite literally, in tatters. To this day, many newsagents in Merseyside refuse to stock the paper.
On Wednesday the Hillsborough Independent Panel published its report on the disaster. Comprising evidence from over 450,000 pages of documents, the report showed that police altered 164 official statements, and removed 116 comments blaming them for the disaster.
It also found police tested the victims – the youngest being only 10 years old – for alcohol in their blood and looked up criminal records to see if any of the dead could be blamed.
The report found they had not done enough and had tried to cover up their errors. If they had acted properly, 41 lives could have been saved.
Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday said that he was profoundly sorry for the “double injustice” done to both the victims and their families.
The current editor of the Sun, Dominic Mohan, issued a formal apology to readers, saying the story that was published in 1989 was “inaccurate and offensive”. Today’s front page carries the headline “The Real Truth” and looks at what went wrong on the day and offers an apology for the paper’s actions the day after.
Kelvin McKenzie also gave a statement yesterday, offering his “profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline”.
The former editor said: “It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth. I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong.
“I too was totally misled. 23 years ago I was handed a piece of copy from a reputable news agency in Sheffield in which a senior police officer and a senior local MP were making serious allegations against fans in the stadium.
“I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster”.
At the panel’s press meeting yesterday, Trevor Hicks, who lost two daughters in the disaster, was told about McKenzie’s apology and called it “too little, too late”.
So where does this leave the Sun?
Whether the Sun’s apology today is truly accepted is up to the families and friends of those killed. It is for them to decide in their own time as they come to terms with the findings of the report.
But public reaction is a powerful thing and it is worth looking at if the apology is valid to the rest of the country.
Last night, Wannabe Hacks asked people on Twitter to look at the front page of today’s Sun and tell us whether they thought that the apology was good enough or too little, too late?
We received a big response and it seems right to post some of them here:
The answers seem to be split between two camps: the Sun has apologised for what they published, under different staff and a different editor 23 years ago, and that this should be accepted, or the apology has taken far too long to come and, because of this, it is meaningless.
Guido Fawkes’ blog yesterday reported, that the Sun is the least trusted of all the tabloids.
The reporting of Hillsborough 23 years ago still lingers as a huge stain on the paper, a paper that hasn’t had the best few years when it comes to honest and professional journalism…
No matter what way you look at it, 23 years is far too long to wait for an apology. Though the question remains: what more can the Sun do?
Should their reputation be forever tarred by something that happened under a different generation of journalists?
The debate will not be ending any time soon…
What do you think? Should the Sun’s apology be accepted or not? Let us know your thoughts. Leave a comment below or tweet us @WannabeHacks.
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