Controversial columnist Kelvin MacKenzie is out at The Sun. MacKenzie had been suspended by the daily tabloid after he compared UK soccer player Ross Barkley to a gorilla in an April 14 column. Barkley is of African descent.
The Sun and MacKenzie ended his contract “by mutual consent” after the month-long suspension. MacKenzie’s most recent offending column included side-by-side photos of Barkley and a gorilla. Barkley filed a complaint with the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation, and the mayor of Liverpool filed a complaint with the police, as iMediaEthics reported. A week later, The Sun published a print and online apology, but MacKenzie stood by his column.
iMediaEthics wrote to News UK, the parent company of The Sun, to ask how long MacKenzie’s contract was supposed to last and if there was any severance or settlement payment involved.
News UK responded with the following press statement:
“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 The Sun and his contract with News Group Newspapers has been terminated by mutual consent.”
News UK didn’t just end the writing contract it held with MacKenzie; the company also ended its relationship with MacKenzie’s financial advice website, A Spokesman Said. News UK sold off its shares in the company and ordered MacKenzie to move A Spokesman Said’s office out of the building, the Guardian noted.
Commenting on the ended contract, MacKenzie said, according to the BBC, “I refuse to allow this latest controversy to cast a shadow over the decades of great times I have had with The Sun.” He added that “there are plenty of opportunities out there.”
iMediaEthics has written to MacKenzie through his website, seeking further comment and asking how long his contract was set to last and if he was paid any severance or settlement money to end the contract early.