It was more than 15 years ago and still some shops boycott the Sun – such was the calamitous effect of the Sun’s front page claims that Liverpool fans urinated on police, pick-pocketed dead victims and prevented brave PCs giving the kiss of life to some of the victims at Hillsborough.
And although the editor at the time, Kelvin MacKenzie, later apologised, there will never be any room for the Sun in some Liverpudlian households ever again.
It all started on the Wednesday following the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989, when MacKenzie was about to make what he later described as a „fundamental mistake“.
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According to Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie in their definitive history Stick it Up Your Punter – the Rise and Fall of the Sun, MacKenzie spent an unusual amount of time deliberating over the fateful headline for that day’s paper.
„MacKenzie then did an enormously uncharacteristic thing. He sat for fully half an hour thinking about the front page layout.“
According to the book he pondered two headlines, one that was rejected reading „You Scum“, and the one that was eventually used – and was to prove the biggest disaster for the paper’s reputation and sales: „The Truth“.
A team of about 18 journalists and photographers had been sent to cover the story, and although reporter Harry Arnold sought out MacKenzie to caution against reporting allegations as truth, MacKenzie pressed on.
Having decided to lay the blame on the fans‘ doorsteps, there was no stopping him.
Under the headline „The Truth“ there were three subheadings:
Some fans picked pockets of victims
Some fans urinated on the brave cops
Some fans beat up PCs giving the kiss of life
The story read as follows: „Drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims of the Hillsborough soccer disaster, it was revealed last night.
„Police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon by a hooligan element in the crowd.
„Some thugs rifled the pockets of injured fans as they were stretched out unconscious on the pitch.
„Sheffield MP Irvine Patnick revealed that in one shameful episode a gang of Liverpool fans noticed that the blouse of a girl trampled to death had risen above her breasts.
„As a policeman struggled in vain to revive her, the mob jeered: ‚Throw her up here and we will **** her'“
The story went on: „One furious policem