Controversial columnist Kelvin MacKenzie leaves The Sun

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

The Sun has confirmed that Kelvin MacKenzie's contract has been "terminated by mutual consent" following his recent controversial column about Everton footballer Ross Barkley.

News UK, the publisher of the Sun and the Times, said that MacKenzie would not be returning to the paper having been suspended last month.

A News UK spokeswoman said: "Further to our statement on 15 April that Kelvin MacKenzie's services as a columnist for the Sun were suspended, we can confirm that Mr MacKenzie's column will not return to the Sun and his contract with News Group Newspapers has been terminated by mutual consent."

MacKenzie, who edited the Sun between 1981 and 1994 and has written a weekly column since 2015, compared Barkley to a gorilla in the April 14 column.

He had written: "Perhaps unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers.

"There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.

"I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it's the eyes that tell the story."

It later transpired that Barkley's grandfather was born in Nigeria, leading to allegations of racism.

Elsewhere in the column he had also suggested that the only men with money on Merseyside were drug dealers.

MacKenzie has been a reviled figure on Merseyside since the Sun published a front page headlined “The Truth” in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

On his departure, MacKenzie said: "I refuse to allow this latest controversy to cast a shadow over the decades of great times I have had with The Sun.

"There are plenty of opportunities out there and I agree with Winston Churchill who said: 'Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm'."