A high street chain has withdrawn its sponsorship of a weekly’s newspaper column after it accused Hillsborough mourners of using the 25th anniversary memorial service as “an excuse for more rabble rousing.”
The Lynn News Citizen in West Norfolk has carried an apology for the piece entitled “We endure a Hillsborough on our roads every 18 days”, by the anonymous Big Eye.
A spokesman for eyecare chain Specsavers confirmed it had pulled out of a deal with the newspaper.
Editor Nick Woodhead declined to expand further on his comment posted online which was headed “a personal message from Editor Nick Woodhead.”
It said: “The Lynn News of Tuesday, April 22, included a comment article by weekly columnist The Big Eye entitled ‘We endure a Hillsborough on our roads every 18 days.’ While the piece sought to draw attention to the numbers of road traffic tragedies, the reference to the Hillsborough memorial and the tone of the article were wholly inappropriate and running it was ill-advised on my part.
The columnist and this newspaper in no way intended to offend anyone involved in Hillsborough or affected by the tragedy and we would like to apologise profusely for any offence caused.”
The Liverpool Echo has reported how the Lynn News Citizen came under fire from supporters online for suggesting fans at the anniversary service were exhibiting “partisan menace” and “territorial attitudes.”
In response to tweets from members of the public the Specsavers said: “We in no way endorse @LynnNewsCitizen‘s ‘Big Eye’ opinions and withdraw our sponsorship of the column with immediate effect.”
The memorial service marking 25 years since the tragedy was held at Anfield last Tuesday.
The column in the weekly read: “A spokesperson for the Hillsborough Family Support Group still succeeded in insinuating into her references to their ongoing campaign for justice a rallying call for her team and their ongoing title ambitions.
“Whatever else has happened and however awful the deaths of those 96 people there is still something that will ease everyone’s pain – a big shiny cup with ribbons on it.
“The defiant flag waving and brandishing of their scarves seemed to be more redolent of another football match than a poignant commemorative occasion and I have to say it pretty much confirmed my opinion of the nature of the game and the whole belligerent atmosphere that surrounds the spitting players, the boorish managers and the oafish supporters”.
The piece goes on to compare the reaction to the 1989 tragedy to people killed in car crashes and says: “There’s no public hand wringing for the UK’s traffic accident victims.”
Hillsborough Family Support Group chairman Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, died in the disaster, described the column as “an absolute disgrace”.
Hundreds of fans took to Twitter this morning to criticise the Lynn News Citizen, on the day the Hillsborough inquests reopened in Warrington.
Respected Liverpool FC author and blogger Paul Tomkins labelled the piece “horrible” and “mean spirited.”