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News agency labels MacKenzie claims ‘ludicrous’

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has been threatened with legal action after he claimed a front page story carried by the newspaper about the Hillsborough disaster came from a Liverpool news agency.

Chris Johnson, editor of the Mercury news agency told the Liverpool Echo that the claim was ‘ludicrous.’

The story came under the headline ‘The Truth’ and was printed four days after the tragedy. It pointed the blame at drunk Liverpool fans, claiming information from police had revealed that fans had urinated on police and assaulted officers attempting to help the injured.

Mr MacKenzie made the claims on the BBC’s Daily Politics show yesterday.

Mr Johnson, news editor of Mercury in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in the FA Cup tie in Sheffield, told the Echo: “You put a rat in a corner and it bites at the first thing it can find. This isn’t the first time MacKenzie has said this, he tried it before in 2007 – he is trying to lay a false trail and turn the tables back on Liverpool for his very sloppy piece of journalism.”

“Our lawyers have written to MacKenzie and demanded he retract this statement.”

He added: “I’d bet my life that story didn’t come from Liverpool, in the strongest terms, it was not something originated in this city.”

The Sun’s coverage of the disaster brought calls for MacKenzie’s resignation.

In the BBC show Mr MacKenzie admitted if he did the story again he would do it differently.