The families of Hillsborough's 96 victims today had it confirmed
that the names and reputations of their loved ones were
dragged through a mire of false allegations in an
attempt to cover up the truth of the tragedy and deflect
blame from the police.
In a series of shocking revelations it emerged that 164 police
statements were doctored in order to shift blame onto
the fans and away from the police.
Delivering the findings to Parliament, David Cameron spoke of "the
denigration of the deceased" and the role newspapers
played in spreading false allegations in the days
following the tragedy.
No paper did so more than The Sun which now faces fresh calls to
offer the full and frank apology that has for so long
been demanded by Hillsborough campaigners.
"Several newspapers reported false allegations that fans were drunk
and violent and stole from the dead. The Sun's report
sensationalised these allegations under a banner
headline "The Truth." This was clearly wrong and caused
huge offence, distress and hurt."
Earlier this week, the journalist who wrote The Sun's controversial
story broke his silence on the matter to say he was
"aghast" when he saw the headline that editor Kelvin
Mackenzie had written on his story.
"A version of the truth"
Speaking to the BBC for a documentary entitled Hillsborough:
Searching for the Truth, shown earlier this week, Arnold
"On The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie was the rather controversial editor
at the time. He liked to write his own headlines... He
wrote the headline 'The Truth'... When I saw the
headline 'The Truth' I was aghast, because that wasn't
what I'd written.
"So I said to Kelvin MacKenzie, "You can't say that"... "And he
said 'Why not?' and I said 'because we don't know that
it's the truth. This is a version of 'the truth'."
It has long been known that the headline was the work of a
previously unrepetent Kelvin Mackenzie and the stained
reputation the former Sun editor must now drag behind
him for what remains of his days is well deserved. But
the entirely false allegations should never have been on
Arnold claims he was just doing his professional duty.
"If an allegation is made it is your duty to report it,"
he told the BBC.
That isn't true. When newspapers report allegations it is not
because they have to but because they want to.
What's more it is their decision to present those allegations in as
shocking a light as possible in order to sell
newspapers. We have seen it recently in cases such as
the reporting of entirely false allegations against the
parents of Madeleine McCann as well as school teacher
As for the suggestion there can ever be "versions of the truth",
that is as ludicrous as it is insulting to all of those
wronged by these particularly nasty lies.
The fact is, there are no "versions of the truth" there are lies or
the truth. The fact The Sun and Kelvin Mackenzie in
particular tried to blur the line between the two over
the deaths of 96 innocent football fans and contributed
to a 23 year cover up remains the most indelible stain
on that newspaper's reputation.
Tomorrow The Sun has the opportunity to finally write The Truth
about Hillsborough but it is impossible to imagine the
paper will ever be forgiven by the families and
campaigners who have fought so hard for justice for the
Update: Kelvin Mackenzie issues Hillsborough apology