The Sun newspaper has printed an apology to England footballer Ross Barkley after its former editor Kelvin MacKenzie compared him to a gorlla.
The columnist prompted outrage when he said looking at the footballer’s eyes gave him a “similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo", despite Mr Barkley’s grandfather being born in Nigeria.
The newspaper today published a full apology to the Everton star, 23, saying it was unaware of Mr Barkley’s heritage and there was “never any slur intended”.
It said: “On April 14 we published a piece in the Kelvin MacKenzie column about footballer Ross Barkley which made unfavourable comparisons between Mr Barkley and a gorilla.
"At the time of publication, the newspaper was unaware of Mr Barkley's heritage and there was never any slur intended.
"As soon as his background was drawn to our attention, the article was removed from online.”
Mr Barkley made a formal complaint against The Sun over the article, which was published last week.
Mr MacKenzie was suspended from the newspaper following the backlash, with the former editor also criticised for saying people with similar pay packets to footballers in Liverpool were drug dealers.
Famous footballer Joey Barton was among the people to brand the column “racist”.