Rupert Murdoch’s Sun and Times newspapers faced a backlash for not featuring the Hillsborough disaster verdict on their front pages. The ruling cleared Liverpool fans of any wrongdoing in the 1989 sporting tragedy that left 96 people dead.
The Times issued an apology on Wednesday, saying they had made a “mistake.” The paper edited subsequent editions to include a front-page photo of the victims’ families gathered outside the Warrington courtroom.
The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton-Dunn however defended the paper’s editorial decision.
“You can discuss editorial judgments about what should or shouldn’t be on the front page, but in our paper tomorrow there are two extremely large pages of very significant coverage, which talks about the huge importance of this day for the people who have suffered and the families who have spent so long trying to right a wrong,” he said in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday.
Both News Corp papers ran lengthy double-page spreads on the outcome inside.
To everyone who’s been let down I’m so sorry.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) April 27, 2016
Following a massive Twitter backlash against the papers, Tony Barrett, a Liverpool-based sports writer for the Times tweeted, “To everyone who’s been let down I’m so sorry.”
Many Liverpudlians have been boycotting The Sun since it ran a now infamous story blaming hooliganism for the deaths in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Under the headline “The Truth,” the paper quoted an anonymous policeman who accused fans of pickpocketing dying victims and urinating on policemen in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
Newton-Dunn used the Sky interview to apologize again for the 1989 story, calling it the Sun’s “worst day” and “deepest shame.”
Kelvin MacKenzie, chief editor of the Sun at the time “The Truth” story was published, said: “Today’s verdicts are an important step in obtaining justice for the victims. My heart goes out to those who have waited so long for vindication.
“As I have said before, the headline I published was wrong and I am profoundly sorry for the hurt it caused.”
The paper apologized for its coverage in 2004 and again in 2012 after the Hillsborough Independent Panel exonerated fans and concluded that there was evidence of a police cover-up.