Kelvin MacKenzie suspended from the Sun after 'racist' column on the people of Liverpool

Telegraph Reporters
The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, had reported the columnist to police over an article he claimed contained

Kelvin MacKenzie has been suspended from the Sun after he expressed "wrong" and "unfunny" views about the people of Liverpool, News UK has announced.

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, had reported the columnist to police over an article he claimed contained "a racial slur".

The comment, in MacKenzie's Friday column, centred on Everton footballer Ross Barkley, who was punched in a Liverpool city centre bar in the early hours of Monday.

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

Ross Barkley of Everton Credit: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA

"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.

"So it came as no surprise to me that the Everton star copped a nasty right-hander in a nightclub for allegedly eyeing up an attractive young lady who, as they say, was 'spoken for'.

The Sun apologises for the offence caused

News UK spokesman

"The reality is that at £60,000 a week and being both thick and single, he is an attractive catch in the Liverpool area, where the only men with similar pay packets are drug dealers and therefore not at nightclubs, as they are often guests of Her Majesty."

England midfielder Barkley, 23, has a Nigerian grandfather.

Labour councillor Mr Anderson had told BBC Sport: "Not only is it racist in a sense that he is of mixed-race descent, equally it's a racial stereotype of Liverpool. It is racist and prehistoric."

A News UK spokesman said: "The Sun's columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has been suspended from the paper with immediate effect. 

"The views expressed by Kelvin Mackenzie about the people of Liverpool were wrong, unfunny and are not the view of the paper.

"The Sun apologises for the offence caused. The paper was unaware of Ross Barkley's heritage and there was never any slur intended.

"Mr Mackenzie is currently on holiday and the matter will be fully investigated on his return."

MacKenzie said he did not know of the footballer's family background and added that it was "beyond parody" for  critics to describe his article as "racist".

He said: "I had no idea of Ross Barkley's family background and nor did anybody else. For the mayor of Liverpool and a handful of others to describe the article as racist is beyond parody."

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