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A screenshot of the Sun's Kelvin MacKenzie column on Ross Barkley.

The UK Sun suspended him earlier this month, but columnist Kelvin MacKenzie is defending his column that compared soccer player Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

MacKenzie’s defense, however, is not official as it was not published in the Sun but in the weekly magazine The Spectator, another UK publication.

iMediaEthics has asked the Sun how long MacKenzie’s suspension is to last and if editors knew he planned to discuss the issue in The Spectator. The Sun has yet to respond.

Apparently on his own behalf, MacKenzie argued in The Spectator April 29, “Sun readers are 100-to-one on my side in the confected Ross Barkley row.” iMediaEthics has asked MacKenzie why he claims 100 to 1 are in his favor.

MacKenzie also claimed Sun readers were not on the side of the Sun‘s management, which suspended him. “The readers didn’t agree and opinion was running 100-1 in my favour, with some threatening a boycott if I didn’t return. Boycott? That would never work, would it?”

MacKenzie also criticized Liverpool residents and fans for “claiming I was a racist.”

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He denied knowing before his Sun article was published that Barkley was of African descent, instead saying he and everyone he knew believed Barkley was white.

MacKenzie wrote, “Actually I and every football fan I had ever met believed Barkley to be white. Unluckily for me, but luckily for my enemies in the north-west, that was not entirely true. It emerged that although Barkley looked white, his grandfather was half-Nigerian.”

MacKenzie continued, “The reality is that had I known of his family tree I would never have made the comparison, but since I am a columnist and not a researcher on Who Do You Think You Are? I didn’t know, and have yet to meet anybody who did. Including the Sun sports editor,” he argued. [Who Do You Think You Are? is a British and American TV program that traces the genealogy of celebrities].

Despite MacKenzie’s defense, the Sun apologized in print for the column.

Oddly, MacKenzie’s last byline for The Spectator was when he was also in the spotlight, published in Sept. 2012, when he apologized for how the Sun reported on the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. During the 1989 sporting disaster, MacKenzie was editor of the Sun, which wrongly blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster that left about 100 people dead. In 2012, following an independent inquiry into the tragedy, the Sun apologized for the 1989 reporting, calling it “our gravest error.”

Hat Tip: Press Gazette 

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Sun’s MacKenzie says if he knew soccer star Barkley was of African descent, he wouldn’t have compared him to gorilla

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